My First Year Episode 6: Teacher Sick Day

By Office of Communications
Employee News
May 22, 2024

Just like the rest of us, Ms. Vivi gets sick, too. While she spent the day at home recovering from a cold, we had the opportunity to shadow the proud leader of Shrevewood Elementary School, Principal Josh DeSmyter.

Josh has been principal at Shrevewood for the past five years, but he still vividly remembers his first year teaching in inner-city Detroit. "It was a year of learning how to collaborate, manage, and build relationships with the students," Josh reflected. "I will never forget that experience." 

Josh makes it a priority to be visible and available for staff and students, frequently doing temperature checks in classrooms and staff meetings. He wants his newest teachers to know he has an open-door policy and is available to listen and give guidance whenever needed. “[The main] thing that I try to give first-year teachers that I didn’t receive is just a strong authentic relationship with the administration,” Josh explains. 

Throughout the day we followed Josh as he visited classrooms and interacted with students and food services workers at lunchtime. 

During a third grade music class visit, Josh joined the students in playing G and E notes on the recorder. Josh explained, “Feeling comfortable enough to take risks as an educator, and model that for the rest of the staff is extremely important. It shows that we don't take ourselves too seriously, either.” 

“I wasn’t the best with the recorder, but I tried. I think students who are more reluctant see that and see the modeling,” Josh continued. “Students who might be hesitant to participate, especially those who struggle themselves, can see Principal DeSmyter and think, ‘Hey, even the grown-ups aren't perfect!’”

Josh wants his staff and students alike to see that he isn’t afraid to try new things like the recorder, and will do silly things like jump rope in P.E. class. “When the [students and staff] see you [trying new] things, they can relate to you,” Josh continued. “They see you participating and having fun but also making mistakes along the way.” 

“[At Shrevewood] we always put family first,” Josh said. Beyond building relationships within the school, Josh also strives to build a great sense of community that extends to families and the surrounding area. “My proudest thing about being the principal here at Shrevewood is the students,” Josh goes on. “They’re such great kids. Being an elementary school principal is the best job in the world.”

Josh’s enthusiasm for education and his role as a leader is infectious. He fosters a positive and empowering environment for those surrounding him. “I am just proud to be the principal of Shrevewood and proud of Vivi and her work.”

Josh was also recognized as a 2022 Outstanding New Principal Finalist for FCPS Honors.