What Principals Do When They Aren’t on Zoom

Headshot of Liz Holland
By Elizabeth Holland

The nexus of where the operations of all departments converge, Elizabeth spends her days answering questions, dealing with challenges, focusing staff on priorities and answering more questions. It is a testament to her good nature that she actually enjoys this.

We’re a friendly group here at WT. Our Principals are highly accessible to everyone in the office, and we often know somewhat of each other personally. But during the pandemic, on Zoom, opportunities for non-work focused interactions dropped precipitously. Without the casual chit chat while waiting for everyone to come to the conference room, our regular Monday morning Principal meetings became rote and exhausting.

So, when our marketing group started encouraging people to incorporate casual ice breakers into meetings, I initiated a new exercise that we continue today. Before each Principal spoke in the meeting, they would give a recommendation. There were very few parameters. We just needed something that would enliven the meeting, encourage us to think ahead, and share something of ourselves.

It worked beautifully. The meeting became something we (I) looked forward to and much more entertaining. Who knew we had romantic reality show devotees, rollerblading enthusiasts, Eurovision followers, or rabid Sounder’s Fans (ok, we knew that)?

Photo of Principals at Sounders match

Principals Cody Lodi (left) and Bernadette Kelly (middle) at a Sounders match.

Books, TV shows, movies, podcasts, cooking techniques, recipes, places to visit, classes to take, suggestions for things to do to your house, your mental state, or with your family / significant other; we really covered the options. It gave everyone an insight into each other’s lives beyond the screen and a low barrier path for connections outside of work.

The most interesting recommendations told a story:

  • “Don’t dig a waterline in 100 degree heat” (seems self explanatory)
  • “Stretch before you go Bull Riding.” (will do)
  • “Stop Watching Football.” (this was in late Nov 2020, and as a Seahawks fan, I must agree)
  • “Don’t wear red sneakers.” (I don’t remember the backstory here, but will abide)
  • “Don’t leave Brisket out overnight.” (Gotcha)
  • “Don’t Forget to MUTE.” (sigh, still?)
  • “Don’t post pictures of your new house’s secret compartment on Instagram.” (because it might get robbed. Side note: this did NOT happen to a WT Principal or employee; we’re fairly smart)

All the recommendations were fantastic. We learned so much about each other and shared what we chose to of ourselves. In a time when we were isolated, siloed and so narrowly focused, it forged a bright bridge of connection that we continue today.

Below are a myriad of recommendations (not all inclusive) that we have shared over the past two years. They are a snapshot of the breadth of interests and activities of Weber Thompson’s fantastic Principal group.

First, though, I wanted to highlight my absolute favorite. It was an online museum exhibit of Madeline Albright’s pins and the meaning behind them. Without this venue, I would have never seen it. Enjoy!

Photo of Madeline Albreit's pic

Madeline Albright’s pin titled, “An Eagle Takes Flight” made of 18kt Yellow Gold, Silver, Diamonds, Rubies, Drop Natural Saltwater Pearl.


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