Leaders on the Go: Principals Take Desks to Classroom

Students lined up ready to give Principal Tanji Towels a big hug as soon as they saw the Merrifield Elementary School leader rolling down the hallway with the decorated cart she uses as a mobile desk.

Over the past five years, Mrs. Towels’ mobile office cart has evolved from towing a laptop and two-way radio to keeping resources handy such as a balanced literacy checklist and classroom review documents. Her cart also includes a candy bin and thank you cards for teachers and “Towels Tokens” for rewarding positive student behavior she sees while she’s visiting classrooms.

“I love serving the students and staff here at Merrifield as their principal.” Mrs. Towels said. “It’s pretty awesome, but being cooped up in an office is not.”

Mrs. Towels said her top priorities are to be visible, monitor classroom instruction and build relationships with her teachers and students. She added that her on-the-move leadership has played a pivotal part in fulfilling her principal responsibilities.

Other principals in the district have implemented this mobile style as well. Kim Edmondson, the principal at Daniel Intermediate School, began using a rolling desk this school year and believes the increased accessibility has made a difference. She makes herself available to teachers and substitute teachers every day to assist with anything that’s needed.

 Tanji Towels, Merrifield Elementary 

“Teachers don’t need to set up an appointment.” Ms. Edmondson said. “I’m able to do quick coaching with teachers. They’re able to ask me questions immediately about on-the-spot feedback.”

Kim Edmondson, Daniel Intermediate 

Ms. Edmonson said her mobile desk has allowed her to build stronger relationships with her students and learn how she can help support teachers instructionally.

At Brandenburg Intermediate School, Principal Tamra Thompson participated in a friendly competition for creating the best abstract art design in Larry Moore’s sixth grade art class. Then Thompson rolled her mobile desk down the hallway to help with traffic flow during class changes. This was also an opportunity to chat with students and teachers. Once the hallways were cleared, Ms. Thompson grabbed a ladder to hang “I Promise” pledges that student signed.

Ms. Thompson said being more visible also makes a difference when it comes to behavior and discipline.

“You find out who kids are sometimes because they have discipline issues.” She said. “If you don’t go out into the classes then you would never see the other kids who are doing great things in the classroom. We can’t forget about them.”