33,840 Seconds for a School Leader

by Ariel Reynolds on Oct 03, 2015

33,840. The number of seconds Eric Schmidt has students on campus during the day. Although the role of school leader tends to be a 24-hour commitment, there are 33,840 seconds when Eric balances the needs of 400 kids at Courage College Prep, KIPP’s SKY Partnership school located at Landrum Middle in Spring Branch ISD.

A Day in the Life

6:45 a.m. - Check Emails

7:10 a.m. - Greet students being dropped off by parents, shaking every hand

7:17 a.m. - Engage in conversation with a parent in Spanish to answer her questions

7:21 a.m. - Comfort a crying student

7:25 a.m. - School begins

The rest of the day continues with a multitude of classroom evaluations on guided reading and vocabulary, content meetings discussing lesson tuning and data tracking, team meetings, and lunch room assignments.

But Who is Eric Schmidt as a School Leader?

The 5’9” school leader is known for his Mohawk hairstyle and use of the phrase, “What up, brother?”

“He respects all of us equally. He tries his best to support us in any way he can. If a student’s parents don’t have a car, he will come pick us up. He takes on more responsibilities than he has to.” –John Freed, Graduating Class of 2020

“Eric’s optimism is what helps make the school a happy place for students and teachers. He has the most incredible ability to fully believe in what’s possible.” –Courtney Robinson, Assistant Principal   

What Does Being a School Leader Really Mean?

21. The number of roles Eric balances during a normal, school-day.

Leader, advisor, mentor, counselor, care-giver, teacher, listener, problem-solver, doctor, comforter, disciplinarian, supporter, organizer, learner, supervisor, mediator, janitor, lunchroom monitor, hallway monitor, lost and found monitor, and bathroom monitor.   

He leads the school. He advises the other staff and mentors the troubled students. He counsels bad decisions and gives care to the crying student. He teaches in the classroom when a student doesn’t understand. He listens to everyone’s problems and then finds the best solution. He nurtures sick students and provides comfort when they are scared and hurting. He disciplines when necessary but continues to provide constant support. He organizes the school and learns from older, KIPP staff to constantly improve. He supervises his staff and mediates for his students. He never overlooks his duties as janitor or lunchroom monitor by continuously picking up trash. He monitors the hallway and bathrooms for students’ safety and is a catchall for lost items.

“What is your role as a school leader?” –Ariel

Eric laughs. “My role is to guide the execution of the vision of our school, and to support my leadership team in developing our teachers to be the best they can be for kids.”

But really it is us that should be laughing at his answer. Eric is so much more than what he put into words.

Not THAT Serious

Although all of the aforementioned descriptions are true, this post wouldn’t be complete without a true picture of Eric’s quirky personality. During the first week of school, Eric bent down to speak to a sixth-grader at lunch and completely ripped the seam of his pants and then hid in the office until office manager, Melissa Reinoza, went and bought him new pants.

“He’s ridiculous.” –Seventh grade math teacher, Ryan Hambley, joked about his leader.

If you really want to know about Eric’s personality…ask him how he felt about having a blog post written about him.  


­More about Eric Schmidt:

Eric M. Schmidt was a 2011-12 Fisher Fellow and is the Founding School Leader of KIPP Courage College Prep in Houston, Texas. Before joining KIPP, Mr. Schmidt taught eighth-grade science and was also the head of the eighth-grade Professional Learning Community (PLC) at a middle school in HISD. In 2010-11, Eric led transformation of the PLC leader responsibility at the school and wrote a grant to help fund a new student incentive program related to student organization and responsibility. In May 2011, Eric graduated from Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business with a Master of Business Administration as a member of the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies and a minor in Spanish.

Eric Strengths:

1. Optimism

2. Appreciation of beauty and excellence

3. Wisdom

4. Zest

5. Gratitude