The beaches are still full. Dedicated fans fill Camden Yards. Snowball stands have a steady stream of people. Fall is not in the air. Yet in the lone halls of schools across Baltimore, someone lingers and hardly ever sits still. These former lawyers, yoga instructors, army captains, and marathoners exchanged their disguises to become true super people – – Principals. In an almost impossible feat, I was able to win over the fierce guardians —the secretaries— of these super people and conduct some candid interviews with four principals across Baltimore City and County as they flew in their orbit putting out fires and getting ready for their school community. I’ll be sharing the interviews over the next week on (cool) progeny.

Meet our second principal: Alicia Danyali!

Alicia Danyali
The New Century School (Fells Point)

Former Life
Yoga Instructor

What is the sweetest part of your job?
When I walk in the classroom and children are comfortable welcoming me on their own. They are not intimidated by me but have built a natural, respectful comfort level.

Are there any unique skills you have that your staff or students may not know about?
I have 500 hours in yoga.

What do you do to get yourself revved up for the year?
I spend time with family. Help my friends. I give myself time to digest change.

How do you get your teacher’s revved up for the coming year?
I focus a lot on community. I actually look at the definition of community and focus on how to facilitate it happening with a variety of personalities with strong talents and a lot of responsibilities. It is often about talking people through situations no matter how small. Showing appreciation to the teachers is important, listening to them, and helping everyone keep perspective and moving forward toward a common vision. It is important at the beginning to create a social moment to have a human connection and initiate the building of a community.

Aside from your principal duties what other hats have you worn to help run your school?
Do dishes, plant trees, replant trees moved by students by mistake, and plunge toilets.

What is the stinkiest job you have done as a principal?
We are a small school. I am in charge of bodily fluids. When a student throws up, I come by with a special powder to clean it up.

If you had to pick two welcome back songs one for your staff and one for the students, which would they be?
I would choose All You Need is Love by the Beatles for the staff and Roar by Katie Perry for the students.

What organizational strategies have you kept as a principal that you used as a teacher?
I use Google apps a lot. I like planning ahead and having visuals of what my calendar looks like.

What was your favorite school supplies growing up? Now?
I liked Hello Kitty stickers, markets, crayons, pencil boxes, and book covers. Now, notebooks and pencils.

While most teachers and students are off for the summer what are you doing?
There is this perception that principals have it easy with summers off but I work all summer. I keep in touch with all the staff and teachers and create presentations and plans for when everyone return. I also attended a summer professional development course at Johns Hopkins.

What message would you send to families getting ready to transition from relaxed summer times to hectic fall schedules?
Make sure you have a special time with your child and not necessarily related to school. Clean out the book bag together. Ask about how they did things in their day instead of what they did. Ask whom they sat with at lunch and whom they played with. Built-in down time not associated with electronics or getting something done- relax as a family.

What was your favorite back to school memory growing up? Now?
I always loved the newness of it all, the unknown, and a fresh start. Now, I like seeing how much the students have changed and listening to their story, seeing how happy they are to come to school.

If you had to play for the Orioles or the Ravens, which would you choose?
I’m not a big sports person but if I had to choose I would choose something with padding for protection— so, the Ravens.

The New Century School is a Private Montessori Based / Pre-primary-4th Grade Mandarin/Spanish Immersion school located at 724 South Ann Street, Baltimore.

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