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July 2018
Volume XV Issue VII

by Bruce Oliver




The Just ASK 2018 Opening of School Checklist


Download the Checklist Now!


Bruce Oliver

Bruce Oliver, the author of Just for the ASKing!, lives in Burke, Virginia. He uses the knowledge, skills, and experience he acquired as a teacher, professional developer, mentor, and middle school principal as he works with school districts across the nation. He has written more than 150 issues of Just for the ASKing!  He is also a co-author of Creating a Culture for Learning published by Just ASK.

As administrators make plans for the 2018-2019 school year, there are a multitude of tasks to take into account from academic goals to student safety, from opening day readiness to the induction of new staff, from facilities and supplies to ever changing technology issues, from establishing and maintaining a strong school culture to meeting the learning needs of all students. These factors, and many others tasks, are addressed in Just ASK’s 2018 Opening of School Checklist which, as has become our practice, is the July issue of Just for the ASKing!

One of a leader’s most important decisions as the new school year approaches is planning the first meetings and moments of the year. These opening days set the tone for the upcoming school year. Beyond communicating changes teachers can expect or additions/deletions to the strategic plan for the school year, the underlying values and beliefs are conveyed in how that information is shared. My Just ASK colleague Marcia Baldanza writes in the July 2018 issue of Professional Practices for the 21st Century Leader about her five Make a Difference Messages. She, as always, manages not only to make us think, but also calls us to action. To that end, I share her tenets with you and hope that they (and her elaboration on these messages) inspire and guide you as you engage in this important work.


Marcia Baldanza’s
Make a Difference Messages

  1. I trust you. I believe in you. I know you can do this!
  2. We are all leaders and learners.
  3. You can count on me to stand by (and with) you.
  4. We are family and you are important.
  5. We always choose the hard right over the easy wrong.


I am sure that you will agree that these messages are the ones you want to communicate to staff members about the work they are doing. All stakeholders need to know from the outset that their principal is positive, supportive, collegial, and consistently on message. In particular, we want the We want the school staff to start the year committed and confident that the goals for the year are achievable, that the “us and them” practice is an anachronism, and that all are working together as a team.

Have a great year!

Bruce and the Just ASK Team




The 2018-2019 Just ASK catalog is now available!

We believe in and live by the “Make a Difference” messages!  We hope you will join us in this work.

Shilpa and Paula had great fun selecting logos and pictures of friends and colleagues, past and present. There is even a picture of our booth at ASCD. We have hundreds of pictures (of friends and family) so it is really hard to choose. No stock photos for us!

We are all excited to feature in our new catalog our most recent publication Points to Ponder written by Bruce Oliver and two upcoming publications, Professional Practices for the 21st Century Leader by Marcia Baldanza and Making Assessment a Learning Experience by Paula Rutherford and Bruce Oliver. Both have a projected spring 2019 publication date.



Permission is granted for reprinting and distribution of this newsletter for non-commercial use only. Please include the following citation on all copies:
Oliver, Bruce. “The Just ASK 2018 Opening of School Checklist.” Just for the ASKing! . Reproduced with permission of Just ASK Publications & Professional Development. © 2018. All rights reserved. Available at