In our Principal Life Facebook group, we regularly have principals posting questions, advice, encouragement, and inspiration. (You can check it out here.)
But every once in a while a post really stops us in our tracks. Sometimes it’s a thread of principals talking about the wildlife they’ve been tasked with removing from campus. I will never forget the principal who casually added a photo of the last moose she shooed away with her bullhorn.
Other times it’s a roundup of stellar advice for keeping calm in tough conversations.
This time, it was a deluge of teachers calling out from work … the night before the first day of school … with some highly creative reasons.
John Mikulski, principal at Alden Intermediate School in Alden, New York, posted this last week.
A professional at not giving too much away, Mikulski included an absolutely fabulous assemblage of screenshots.
The spicy shirker
My initial response: “This is either real or the world’s weirdest excuse.”
The sartorial slacker
The gall of this fashionista!
The newlywed NFL no-show
I had to Google Josh Allen. Please respect my privacy at this time.
The bee absentee
I mean, you can’t fault her!
The rodent-refusing runaway
Lesson learned: Always listen to Kathy Bates.
The dog-loving do-nothing
My response if I’m principal? Bring that puppy in.
The badger betrayer
Between the badgers and bees, who knew upstate New York was a hotbed for wild animal attacks?
Of course, we wanted to know more about how this situation unfolded. John was such a good sport and was happy to chat about this epic prank.
Tell us about your principal experience.
Principal John Mikulski: I am the principal at Alden Intermediate School, which is located in Alden, New York (about 20 miles outside of Buffalo). I have been the principal since 2017.
How did this all start?
The night before the first day of school, my phone started lighting up with text messages from some of my teachers. They came out of nowhere!
When the first message came in, what was your initial reaction?
The first message caught me completely by surprise. The excuse was absurd but also came from a teacher who I wouldn’t necessarily expect to be part of a prank.
At what point did you realize they were pranking you?
I figured it out when one absence request after another started showing up in my messages. I later learned that my entire fourth grade team had been planning and coordinating their messages for a long time!
How did you respond?
It absolutely made my night! I couldn’t wait to see what text message would appear next. I also appreciated that, while some teachers might dread the start of a new school year, mine were working together to do something fun.
Are you planning any kind of revenge?
At the end of the week, I plan to share the bad news that their pay is delayed because the printer we use to cut checks ran out of toner. I believe there’s a national toner supply shortage—next week’s paycheck isn’t looking good either!
But in all seriousness, we love this story so much. It shows a leader with a fabulous sense of humor, a school that clearly has a positive culture, and a highly creative fourth grade team.
Big thanks to John Mikulski for answering our questions and for sharing this story!
I’m not going to encourage you to replicate this prank with your principal. But I’m not not going to encourage it either.