March 23, 2020
An experienced teacher, the current head of the Berkshire County Elementary Principals Network, and a graduate of MCLA’s Master of Education program as well as MCLA Leadership Academy, Craneville Elementary School Principal Annie Pecor knows well that working in education can be challenging.
It’s a Friday afternoon, and Annie Pecor and her staff at Craneville Elementary School in Dalton are getting ready for dismissal. Students are lined up in hallways, excited for the weekend, and from the school’s main office, Pecor is managing multiple conversations, end-of-week wrap-ups, and check-ins with students and teachers.
This is one of her favorite parts of the job. “I like working to create a culture of joy and learning, and trying to live our Craneville values: Respectful, Responsible, Scholarly, and Proud,” she said.
An experienced teacher, the current head of the Berkshire County Elementary Principals Network, and a graduate of MCLA’s Master of Education program as well as MCLA Leadership Academy, Pecor knows well that working in education can be challenging. As principal, “people come to you all the time with questions or problems,” she said. “When I was a teacher, I’d go to the principal with a problem, and to me, it was the biggest problem. As principal, people deserve for me to be present in that moment with them. I want people to feel valued.”
After graduating from Siena College in 2003, Pecor decided to work toward becoming a teacher, substituting as she earned her degree and getting her middle school English teaching certification. “Teaching middle school taught me so much,” she said. “They’re different every day. They’re intuitive, and they see the world differently than any other age group.”
As she became involved as a teacher, she realized educational leadership could be a potential path. “In a leadership role, you have the opportunity to influence the big picture,” she said. “I was involved in leadership in my school—but I can make decisions here that can impact my families, my teachers, and my students. I feel like I’m a very reflective person. I take feedback well, I ask people for feedback, I want to know. I felt I wanted to grow and be a better educator, and leadership was the next step.”
MCLA Leadership Academy—and its director, Dr. Marianne Young—influenced Pecor and helped her refine her leadership style. “Marianne Young is an astounding woman,” she said. “She is so poised, so articulate, and so about doing what’s right for the students. That is the message I walked away with: that it’s OK to advocate for what you know is right. I hope as I gain traction in leadership, I can embody the courage that she spoke about.”
Another takeaway: “You have to make sure you can have courageous conversations all the time. A large chunk of this work is having a philosophy and being guided by it, and making decisions based on what you believe in. If you believe in inclusive practice, what you do has to match that belief.”
At the end of the day (this busy Friday, but every other day as well), Pecor said her favorite part of being an educator and a principal is her students, who make this work worth doing. “It’s the kids! It’s their smiles. People ask me, if someday I might think about becoming a superintendent, would I miss the kids? But I feel like all those jobs—all educator jobs—still have a responsibility to interact with students.”
Are you an MCLA student, alum, or faculty member? Do you want MCLA to share your story? Please email Creative and Brand Strategy Manager Francesca Olsen at Francesca.Olsen@mcla.edu.