Colleen Loughlin is the new principal at Pleasant View Elementary School. Second Year Corps Member, Suzanna Lossio, sat with her for an exclusive interview about her philosophies and experiences with the Pleasant View community.
Suzanna Lossio (SL): What would you like our City Year blog readers to know about you and your experiences prior to Pleasant View?
Colleen Loughlin (CL): I have been in the district for 17 years. In my 17 years, my first 9 years were as an English as a Second Language teacher for grades 1-5, mostly at Carl J. Lauro and Broad St. In Providence. Then, I was asked to join the district level reading coaches. I was a reading coach for about 8 years, doing district professional developments, working to build capacity in the buildings, analyzing data, and supporting the school improvement plans. Then I was taken into the Aspiring Principals Program for the district…I've had my "admin" for a few years now, and I've been holding on to it until I found the building that I felt was my perfect fit, and that's really as truthful as I can be.
Q: Why was Pleasant View that fit for you?
CL: I wanted a building that aligned with my vision: all children are special and that every child can grow academically. Also, [I wanted] a place that supported the whole child, not a place that was focused on just academics. I believe that by focusing on the whole child, you will actually grow the whole learner.
SL: What is your perspective of City Year's role within the school?
CL: I am so excited about the full service office because I strongly believe in it. It actually saddens me that other schools in Providence don’t have those supports like we do. I wish that every school across this nation was able to have City Year, YMCA and Family Service of Rhode Island because without those components we wouldn't be successful. People don't realize that the magic of this building is all the components that make it that way.
The full service partners do the trick. It's the supports in the morning, that you guys are out there welcoming people and in the afternoons you're helping. Even though it's managing traffic, it's not a small thing, it's a big thing. It helps make people feel welcome here. Curiosity Cafes get people excited about being here and being a part of the community. The part that City Year does, which is being the bridge to the community, is really critical. I also think that City Year has done a really great job of building those mentorship relationships by being [people] that the students can really trust, someone they see as almost at their level because you're not that much older than them. They can relate.
CL: We are a special school and I'm just glad to be part of such an awesome place. When you wake up for work and you're excited, you know you've found your passion. I'm excited every day to come here, even in the bad moments, it's still the best job. You're doing it for a reason, you feel valued and you feel that what you're doing is important. The kids are just incredible. I love the uniqueness of our children, I love that we have approximately 42% students with special needs.
SL: Do you have a motto as a principal?
CL: Not really a motto as just a principal, but something for life in general: Give respect, get respect. That means everyone at every level should be respected, and no one should feel that they are being talked down to. No one should feel like less of a person. Value all people. I think doing by that—acknowledging people, smiling at people – you're putting energy out into the world. If you go out there and you're kind to people, you get kindness back. It's about building respect and building kindness.