Celebrating National Principals Month: Julie Pierce, Baldwin County

October is National Principals Month and A+ Education Partnership is recognizing a representative sample of our many great principals across Alabama. Watch for profiles all this month.

Julie Pierce
Fairhope Elementary
Baldwin County Schools

Julie Pierce’s 28-year education career has spanned many roles — classroom teacher, reading coach, and assistant principal among them. Julie has also served as principal for two Baldwin County schools, Gulf Shores Elementary and (since 2016) Fairhope Elementary. In 2017, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) selected her as Alabama’s National Distinguished Principal of the Year.

How long have you been a principal?

I’ve completed 10 years and just started my 11th.

Briefly describe your education journey.

A principal encouraged me to look into administration after serving as a reading coach for 3 years and classroom teacher for 13 years.

What are 2-3 insights you would share with others who want to become principals?

The job is filled with immense fun, lots of joy and the hardest struggles. Be ready to learn from the staff. Don’t shy away from or apologize for the discomfort that comes with new learning.

What keeps you up at night and what gets you out of bed in the morning?

I lose sleep over finding win-win solutions to issues. I get up knowing there are children and adults to encourage to be their best.

What is your favorite leadership book (or books)?

Jim Knight’s Unmistakable Impact. That title just says it all.

What are 2-3 essential skills that all leaders should possess?

Compassion, high expectations, and ability to forgive.

In what ways do you network with other educators outside your school?

The A+ Key Leaders Network, CLAS, AAESA, NAESP

How do you create opportunities for your own professional learning?

I look for long-term professional development opportunities that allow me to learn through cognitive coaching. A year long study of a topic allows me time to better understand and implement.