Of the many passionate and exceptional school administrators inside the DeSoto County School District (DCS), one in particular has stood out for her work with her students, faculty, and staff.
Lisa Steiner, principal at Lake Cormorant Middle School, has been named as the district’s Administrator of the Year.
Steiner and the other top school administrators of the district will be celebrated at a reception this (Thursday) afternoon at 5 p.m. It will be held at the DCS Central Services Board Room, 5 E. South Street in Hernando, and will follow the district Board of Education meeting at 3 p.m.
Steiner came to Lake Cormorant Middle to begin the 2017-18 school year from Oak Grove Central Elementary School, where she was its principal for five years. Before that, Steiner was assistant principal at Hernando High School and started her education career as a teacher at Horn Lake Middle School.
Education was a career Steiner knew she was destined to enter, but initially Steiner was encouraged to go in another direction.
“I graduated from Horn Lake High and I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but at that time there was a big push for women to get into the business field,” Steiner explains. “I was in a business class and my teacher really pushed me, so they kind of talked me out of the field of education and into the business world.”
Her pursuit of a business career when she started at Northwest Mississippi Community College didn’t last long, however. Steiner turned back to education, took night classes, and eventually earned degrees from the University of Mississippi and Delta State University.
Her road to becoming an administrator came at the urging of others when she started teaching at Horn Lake Middle School.
“A couple of my principals there saw something in me and kept encouraging me to go into administration,” said Steiner. “I’d never thought about administration, I just wanted to teach. I signed up at the last minute to go to Delta State. It’s been the best thing I ever did, I love what I do.”
Steiner’s administration career has taken her from high school, to elementary school, and now middle school, which she said is challenging, but very rewarding.
“The biggest challenge is just the middle school itself,” said Steiner. “It is the hardest age but I consider it to be the most fun. The kids here come to you in sixth grade and still have that elementary school mentality and when they leave you in eighth grade they’re ready for high school. It’s just that growing period of their life and you get to influence it.”
One of the working methods Steiner is using at Lake Cormorant Middle is called the Professional Learning Community, or PLC, model.
PLC means Steiner and her faculty are working together to help each other. A leadership team of teachers and lead teachers for each hallway meet to discuss concerns, needs, maybe even complaints. Anything brought up is discussed and then brought back to Steiner and the leadership team.
“Teachers meet together twice a week, science teachers, math teachers, and English teachers for certain grades,” Steiner said. “They meet and they discuss what they’re seeing, so we’re getting away from that ‘my classroom, my kids’ to ‘our kids, our school.’ We’re all taking ownership of what’s going on with the kids.”
Steiner has also promoted activities at the school with the start of an athletic booster club, a dance team, and by encouraging students to join clubs, such as a military club for students who may be interested in the high school’s Marine Corps JROTC program when they move into their freshman year.
“We have a lot of interest in the military club since we know that the JROTC is next door at the high school and I have several staff members who have been in the military,” Steiner said.
Steiner credits the work of her staff, faculty, students for her being named Administrator of the Year.
“I told one of my teachers that I wouldn’t be getting this honor if it wasn’t for everyone that I work with at this building,” she said. “It’s a team effort here. One person can’t do all the work.”
And Steiner added the goal for her and her staff is always to do all that is possible to get her students ready to enter the high school across the road as a ninth grader.
“I tell my students every day that ‘you’ve got to have that high school diploma,’” Steiner said. “Making it out here in this world now without a high school diploma is not going to be pleasant at all. It’s hard enough to get a job when you’ve got a college degree but without that high school diploma, you’re not going anywhere. You’ve gotta have it.”
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.