Educators Lead Podcast: Jessica Cabeen

Jessica Cabeen is the principal of Woodson Kindergarten Center in Austin, Minnesota. Jessica has an interesting career path that I will let her share with you in the interview, but in the end she became a school administrator because of her heart for children. Jessica holds a Bachelors degree in Music Therapy from University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, and a Masters in special education from St. Thomas and her directors license and principal license from Hamlin University.


Jessica talks about her family, her background, and her very interesting career path from music therapist to special education teacher to education administrator (2:00)

Life in “Spam Town USA” is much more exciting than you’d think! (9:00)

When and why Jessica decided to make the move from teacher to administrator (13:00)

One of Jessica’s biggest challenges on her educational administration journey was putting the theories she’d learned into actual practice in the real world of working with students, parents, and teachers (16:40)

The importance of being patient, and taking the time to really listen to teachers and other admins when you’re a new administrator (or when you move to a new position) (17:40)

Jessica shares a moving story about one of her most memorable experiences as an Edu-leader (22:24)

The biggest difference between the impact teachers have and the impact administrators have is the ability to make change on a system-wide scale (29:05)

The best leadership advice Jessica has ever received is that each criticism or negative reaction can either make you bitter, or make you better, and the choice is up to you (30:54)

The importance of having a growth mindset, which inspires others to grow and take risks (32:15)

Some education leadership books that have had a powerful impact on Jessica (33:09)

Jessica’s favorite tools and apps (34:00)

Her favorite educational quote: “Kids deserve it.” (35:18)

Jessica’s advice for admins working with students – get in there and get your hands dirty (35:50)

Listening and asking questions are key skills for working with teachers and other staff (36:39)

If she had a time machine, this is the advice Jessica would go back and give herself when she was just starting on her educational administration journey(38:35)


Books mentioned in this episode

Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Communities at Work by Richard Dufour

Starting a Movement: Building Culture From the Inside Out in Professional Learning Communities by Kenneth C. Williams and Tom Hierk

The Power of a Teacher by Adam L. Saenz


Apps and tools mentioned in this episode



iPad Mini:


Connect with Jessica Cabeen

Twitter: @JessicaCabeen

Blog: Principal in Balance

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