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Now 10 years after being principal, Seib still sees benefits

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In order to become a better teacher, Tom Seib had to be principal first.

In fact, when asked if he's a better teacher now than he was before he was principal, he quickly and firmly responds, "Absolutely."

He may not have even expected it at the time.

"One of the things that being principal gave me an opportunity to do was visit and observe hundreds and hundreds of classes during those 10 years, and see so many different styles of teaching, and so many different ways of meeting students' needs, and it made me a better teacher myself."

It's been 10 years since Seib was principal at Lincoln Pius X High School. He traded lots of classrooms for one, and lots of responsibilities for fewer, but added lots of insight overall.

Today the former principal is again a social studies teacher. He was principal for 10 years, and was an assistant principal for 5 years prior to that. And before that, he was in his first stint in teaching (though perhaps he never really stopped teaching).

Today's students might be surprised to know he was once the principal at Pius X, and alumni from 15-plus years ago might be surprised to know he's teaching again.

The biggest adjustment ten years ago – and sometimes since then – is completely stepping back from the top decision-making role.

That means no second-guessing the current principal, Tom Korta, and no commenting to other teachers about how he handled situations when he was principal.

"That was something I really had to struggle with and think about a lot," Seib said. "I made a decision that I really had to totally separate myself as best I could. I promised myself and promised Tom and Fr. (Michael) Morin (former Pius X superintendent) that I would totally remove myself from the leadership part."

That's not to say that Korta and Greg Lesiak, the school's assistant principal, won't ask him for advice in certain situations.

Seib has been active in accreditation reviews in many other Catholic schools. So during Pius X's recent external visit, he could help the school prepare in order to maximize the benefits of the review. But the decisions resulting from that process, he said, were left to the current administrators.

Back in the classroom, he feels like he can better understand students.

"Teaching is still teaching, but I think that there was some change," Seib said. "I changed because I matured more, I understood more about what a successful teacher is, and again because of my experience as an administrator, I see both sides of teaching a lot more clearly."

Pius X • 6000 A St. • Lincoln, NE 68510 • 402-488-0931 • Fax: 402-488-1061

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