Middle school principal moves entire office into school lobby

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Most students try and avoid spending time in the principal’s office. But at Sunnyside Intermediate School in Lafayette, students don’t have a choice. Principal Kevin Maxwell has taken his office to them — desk and all.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Maxwell from his desk in the main lobby.

“When [students] walk by they’re like, ‘What’s going on, Mr. Maxwell? Why are you out here?’ And I [say], ‘This is my office.’ And they’re like, ‘This is your office?’ I say, ‘Look how big it is! It’s humongous! Who wouldn’t want this? What a view!’”

Maxwell got the idea from another principal on social media.

“I feel like I have the pulse of the building because I am interacting constantly with people,” Maxwell said.

He started out in the hallway just one day a week, but it wasn’t long before he decided he could do it permanently.

With wireless Internet and his desk phone forwarded straight to his cell, Maxwell is either at his desk in the lobby, walking the hallway or visiting classrooms all day long. Private meetings, however, are still held in an office.

He says it’s not just about being accessible and available. It’s also about keeping his building safe. He shares his desk with DARE officer John Townsend just feet from the front door.

“With us being more visible…it’s easier to keep the kids safe,” said Maxwell.

Townsend agreed.

“My office used to be upstairs, and I was kind of tucked away. And I thought it would be a good idea to be closer to the front doors where people could see me coming in and out. [I’m] also more accessible to the students, and I think it’s worked out well.”

Sixth grade student Zara Powell said she likes the idea.

“I feel like it’s easier to communicate because if you’re in an office it makes you feel like you’re in trouble,” Powell said. “I think that when they’re out in the hallway, it makes kids act better and more mature than when they’re actually by themselves.”

For this principal, it’s more than an open door policy. It’s a no door policy, and no plan to change anytime soon.

“If we’re more visible and we’re building relationships, it’s easier for staff, students and parents,” said Maxwell. “It’s a win-win situation.”

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