By Molly Bello
Healthy relationships and respect between teachers and their principal is of the utmost importance to Dr. Phyllis A. Gimbel.
The enthusiastic Bridgewater State University professor has published her second book, “Healthy Schools: The Hidden Component of Teaching and Learning.” Gimbel wrote her book during the Spring 2013 semester and it was published this past October.
Gimbel has had many titles throughout her career in education including Spanish and French teacher, middle school principal, and she is currently the Associate Professor of Educational Leadership in the Department of Secondary Education and Professional Programs here at Bridgewater State.
Gimbel’s experience has made her stress the importance of a positive culture in school systems.
“When I was a school principal, I worked hard to build relationships with teachers because I knew with student achievement it’s important for teachers to work in a positive culture where teachers feel appreciated, validated, and respected for their discipline,” Gimbel said. “I remembered that a friend told me her son was disappointed as he walked down the halls of his high school and his principal never said hello.
“I always smile and try to know as many students as possible. I wanted to write the book about social culture, I knew the secret ingredient to teaching and learning.”
Gimbel’s passion is evident in her work and as observed by some of her former students.
“Phyllis is a whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm,” said David Mills, a former student of Gimbel’s. “She believes in her mission as a teacher and scholar, and her enthusiasm is infectious to her students. She has an excellent blend of high expectations and conscientiousness, and that combination gets things done.”
Gimbel co-wrote the book with retired head of school Lenesa Leana, with help from their research assistant Amanda Bird, who studied at BSU to receive her Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies.
Gimbel said having a co-author forced her to meet deadlines. Also, she said didn’t want to disappoint her partner. Completing the book in her one semester sabbatical was just what she needed to stay focused and complete the book on time.
Gimbel stresses the three takeaways from her book.
“Studies in recent years have confirmed that leadership ranks second only to teacher quality among school influences on student learning,” Gimbel said. “When the culture is positive, school improvement occurs at a faster rate and is more substantial.”
Finally, Gimbel also said that according to The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, “68 percent of teachers would rather work in a school with a good principal than earn a higher salary.”
Gimbel’s first book was published in 2003. The new book was written with 10 extra years of knowledge and experience Gimbel said.
“I better understand the value of research.”
Gimbel’s experience in education, and the books she has written, could help leave a lasting impact.
“Phyllis embodies the essence of education,” said former student Jason Hebert. “Her example is a testament to the hard work educators bestow to their students as stewards of intellectual curiosity and knowledge. Her passion, intellect, and enthusiasm encapsulate the true spirit of BSU’s enduring mission as a leading comprehensive institution of higher education in Southeastern Massachusetts.”
Molly Bello is a The Comment’s Living-Arts Editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.