A day in the life of ‘Triple G’

Just what goes on in a normal day for Principal Gregg Shoultz? In the first edition of “A day in the life of…,” he shares what his duties as principal are and some of his favorite hobbies.

The life of a principal seems like a mundane job at first glance – always at meetings, taking phone calls or dealing with students called into the dreaded principal’s office. But Principal Gregg Shoultz’s life is much more exciting than that of a typical principal’s — besides just holding expected responsibilities of a principal, he has many other hidden hobbies and activities that he participates in.

His day starts much earlier than other West students and teachers. He gets to school at about 7:15 each morning and spends the first 45 minutes writing lots of emails and notes to the staff. As teachers start flooding into the school, he tries to see each teacher in person, then walks around the building to talk to students as they start arriving as well. The late start has given him a lot of extra time to work in the mornings.

Aditi Borde
Shoultz waves to a staff member as he crosses the courtyard.

On the surface, he performs “typical” principal duties, such as taking phone calls, going to classroom observations and attending meetings. While some meetings are about particular students, others are IEP (Individualized Education Program) meetings, meetings that involve many people like guidance counselors, parents, teachers and a student. These IEP meetings are where a specific student has some kind of disadvantage that they can’t control that makes them not able to reach the standards set for everyone. That student is then given accommodations to help them perform at the same level as other students.

Pretty much most of the [IEP meetings] are done by Ms. Martin or Ms. Abraham, but there are some that I attend that either need my attention, or they need a person there and I’m available,” Shoultz explained.

Depending on how his day goes, he then tries to go to the cafeteria for lunch to touch base with some students and see how their day is going. What he has for lunch varies on a day to day basis.

The first thing [I eat when I get up] is granola and blueberries, so that’s my sustaining meal. And then lunch is really hit and miss for me. Sometimes I will get a sandwich at the sandwich shop here on campus. Sometimes I’ll just eat granola bars or peanuts.”

[I’m] learning about what cool things are happening with students so I can highlight what students are doing in the [weekly] newsletter.

— Gregg Shoultz

The amount of work put into the job can get tiring. Like some students, Shoultz relies on caffeine in energy drinks to wake him up. For Shoultz, this beverage isn’t coffee or tea, it’s Diet Dr. Pepper.

I do have an addiction to Diet Dr. Pepper, so I’ll drink at least two Diet Dr. Peppers a day. I’m not a coffee drinker, so Diet Dr. Pepper for me is how I get my caffeine to keep me awake,” he said. “It’s really embarrassing when I go into a classroom and I start to fall asleep. It’s not good and the teacher doesn’t feel good about it. So I try to make sure that I’m well caffeinated when I watch classrooms.”

In the afternoon, he has time for himself to work on projects, or he takes the time to return phone calls that he missed earlier. These phone calls are usually about tasks he needs to get done; he makes sure that everything gets finished.

Between two and four is a good time for me to … return phone calls or make phone calls to find out: why isn’t this done yet? Who’s going to do this? When is it going to get done? How do I make sure it gets done?” said Shoultz.

Aditi Borde
Shoultz makes a phone call during the middle of the day.

Besides working on his projects, he also has an abundance of meetings that he needs to attend relating to individual students and teachers.

“It might be the West Side Story, or it might be the new dance team that wants to talk to me about where they can practice, getting support for them or need[ing] to find some funding for a certain activity, so students will come to me and ask me about options they might have.”

Although Shoultz is busy with all his tasks for the day, he does have some downtime. When he’s not pulled away from his desk, he reads the “West Side Story” for notable events to put into the weekly Smore newsletter sent to parents and students.

“I’m trying to keep up on what’s happening in the school so I can put it in our weekly newsletter and [I’m] learning about what cool things are happening with students so I can highlight what students are doing in the [weekly] newsletter.”

He also spends some of his free time at school reading or watching media on the New York Times, Slate Magazine or other news and social media sites.

“I’m always looking for some media either to watch or to read. If I’m like, ‘I just want to get away from being a principal,’ I’ll go and read things on the internet. I look at Twitter and see who I’m following on Twitter and maybe it’ll push [me] to an interview or a review of a book or a film,” he said.

It’s really embarrassing when I go into a classroom and I start to fall asleep. It’s not good and the teacher doesn’t feel good about it. So I try to make sure that I’m well caffeinated when I watch classrooms.

— Gregg Shoultz

In the evenings, he comes back for the West High events that may be happening, whether it be a basketball game or a music concert. He tries to attend the events when he’s available, but he sometimes has more meetings to attend after school. He has district meetings on Mondays or Tuesdays, and on Thursday afternoons, he attends faculty meetings.

Outside of school though, Shoultz partakes in many unique hobbies. If he gets home and it’s still light outside, he likes to ride his bike. He’s an avid cyclist and either cycles on the road or mountain bikes. He also enjoys listening to podcasts – he has about a dozen that he likes to listen to, like “Hang up and Listen” and “The Presidential Whistlestop.” One of his favorite podcasts is “Off Book.”

I recommend [“Off Book”] to anybody who has a warped sense of humor, because it’s these two very talented comedians and there’s also singers, and they improvise a musical every week. They have a piano player who’s very talented, and they start with the theme and they make a musical out of it.”

Aditi Borde
Shoultz shows off some of his favorite podcasts.

Some of his other hobbies he can’t enjoy year-round, like skiing and scuba diving.

“When it snows, that’s a really good time because then I get to cross-country ski around here. And then I plan at least one trip to the mountains somewhere to a hill, where I can downhill ski. My other hobby that I get to indulge in usually once a year, and only just once a year is scuba diving. Mostly the Caribbean, now. Next year, I’m going to go to Belize; last year, we went to Bonaire, which is really cool, a great place for diving.”

Shoultz manages to keep busy in and outside of school, but he has to keep his schedule flexible.

Unlike when I was a teacher, when I had scheduled exactly what I was doing every day, now things schedule me instead of me scheduling them. I always seem to keep busy. I don’t have a schedule saying ‘from 10 to 11 meet with parents.’ I need to be accommodating to the parents’ schedule.”

Whether it be meeting with students, listening to podcasts, mountain biking or scuba diving, Shoultz does it all.