Importance of school pride with Leo Ganahl – Ferguson, MO [Podcast #005]

With the ever-increasing emphasis on accountability, data collection, and high-stakes testing the focus is often drawn away from those elements of our culture that have long made schools a central source of pride and community.  Leo Ganahl, principal at Halls Ferry Elementary in the Ferguson-Florissant School District located outside of St. Louis, has a passion for his school and his neighborhood that is making an impact on the students and community he serves.  In this episode he shares some of the things his school is doing to establish trust, grow a sense of pride, and build relationships between school and community.

In this episode:

  • Ninja Tool Spotlight –
  • Interview with Leo Ganahl (Ferguson, MO) – Importance of school pride
  • #ClassroomNinja – How are you making connections between school and community?

Listen to the Audio:

Subscribe to podcast in iTunes

Ninja Tool Spotlight: is an online certificate making resources with hundreds of templates for your use.  Not only do they look sharp, but they are all FREE!  This website offers a user-friendly interface and allows you to easily customize the certificate templates with your text, desired fonts, and print layouts from right within your browser with nothing to download.  Once your certificate is personalized to your liking, simply print it and you are done. They offer several school-specific templates along with sports-themes and graduation-themed certificates.

Importance of School Pride

Leo Ganahl, elementary principal in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, was born and raised in Ferguson, Missouri.  He went to school there, grew up there, and stayed there.  He loves his community and the school district that he serves.  As a former Teacher of the Year in the Ferguson-Florisant School District, Ganahl is now the principal at Halls Ferry Elementary School where his passion for his students and neighborhood is making a difference in his school and helping to heal a community that has experienced some difficult and polarizing events over the past year.

In this episode he shares the importance of building pride in your school and community along with some simple steps your school can implement.  Here is what we learned:

  1. Be your school’s biggest cheerleader…  Get excited about the things happening in your school and share the successes taking place in your classrooms.
  2. Get to know the people in your school…  We are in the people business.  Something as simple as greeting students and parents at the front door each morning when students are dropped off can set the tone that you care about them as people.
  3. Invest time in your community outside of school… Build trust with families and other stakeholders in your district.  Leo lives in the same neighborhoods he works in and makes a point to see his students and their families outside of the school setting.  As somebody who is fully invested in his school and community, he makes it easy for others to want to follow his lead.
  4. Clearly identify what your school stands for… The simple mission and vision, not the board-approved paragraph that every school has, let’s everybody know where your priorities lie and helps to keep you focused on what matters.
  5. Connect your feeder schools with their receiving school …  Districts with multiple elementary schools have some unique challenges,  They can overcome the different mascots and segmented identities at each school by being intentional about connecting feeder schools with their receiving middle and high schools.

#ClassroomNinja — How are you making connections between school and community?


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Yvonne Cordell says:

    I feel so privileged to substitute teach in the PHR-6 School District because I have taught many of these students’ parents. Therefore, they identify with me and trust me knowing me personally and educationally. I’m from the the old school that professes the work ethic in that if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well. I have the greatest admiration for the dedication of the principals, teachers and support staff I work with when I sub. They are great self-sacrificing individuals that give the schools the reputation they have earned.


    1. Coming from the best substitute anybody could ask for… 🙂 That definitely means a great deal! Thank you for the kind words, Yvonne, and for your amazing dedication to our school, the educational profession, and people in general!


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