Last week marked the end of Mark Springer’s 20-year run as the Principal of Mason Rice Elementary School. The leadership he demonstrated was extraordinary, and while the students’ strong test scores are what might initially draw praise from outsiders, it was the multitude of “little things” he did that truly made the school great.

Every morning, Mr. Springer stood in front of the school – no matter how inclement the weather – greeting students (and parents) as they arrived. He knew the name of every child in the school (in most elementary schools, the principal only knows the “troublemakers” and the outstanding performers).

When I did a STEAM presentation for my daughter’s third grade class, Mr. Springer walked into the classroom and observed the presentation for 5-10 minutes before continuing his journey around the school. No one stopped what they were doing when he walked into the classroom, because his presence was both expected and welcomed. Rather than ruling with an iron fist, he led by example, and the result was a universally positive environment.

The strong relationships Mr. Springer cultivated with teachers, staff and students were directly responsible for the successful culture at Mason Rice. I’d like to think that I learned something from observing him over the past four years, and I am certain that the positive reviews I received from my students were at least in part due to the terrific example that he set.

While virtually every parent is sad that Mr. Springer retired – many tears were shed on his last day, with students waiting in line to hug him goodbye – we can take solace in knowing that the fantastic culture he fostered will continue for years to come.