Judy Knotts sees people. Not just the way you and I might see people. She sees deep into their souls, into their hearts. She sees them as unique individuals as well as for their recognizable humanness.
This collection of essays, most of which have been published within the last two decades in the faith column of the Austin American-Statesman, gives insight into the treasure that is Judy Knotts.
It also invites you to find the Judy Knotts in you.
Knotts offers a lesson in treating everyone with dignity; a lesson in meeting people where they are; a lesson in putting away all the judgmental thoughts we have about fellow humans, and encourages us to open our hearts and our minds to everyone.
Readers of the Statesman have responded in thoughtful ways to the words of Judy. No other faith columnist has elicited as many emails of praise to her editors. Readers always comment about what a good person Judy is, how she challenged them to look at another person in a different way, how they were going to roll up their sleeves and act.
Quite frankly, Judy shakes us out of our complacency in loving ways and invites us to act. It’s not enough to hand a homeless person a dollar or a package of food or a bottle of water. What everyone craves is compassion, understanding and dignity. How can we be the bearers of those things? How can we look into another person’s eyes and really see them for who they are, not what we think they are?
I invite you to take each essay into your heart. They will change you, make you a better person, make you see people differently, make you see the world differently. Sometimes she will make you angry that anyone suffers and that no one has solved the problem of homelessness. Sometimes she will make you weep at the story you have just read.
Take your time with these essays. Drink them in and savor them.
It has been my pleasure to get to know Judy as a person and as a writer as her editor at the Statesman for the past six years.
Her words have changed me, I know her words will change you, too.
—Nicole Villalpando, Specialty Editor, Austin American-Statesman, Austin, TX
About the Author
Judith Knotts is a failed violinist and tap dancer. Her professional career has centered on education as a consultant to schools, school head, and writer. She is interested in how human beings develop and become who they are. Dr. Knotts’ journey into the homeless world began when she was in her sixties and continues into her seventies. She believes change always brings with it an invitation to become our best selves.
“What a great look into the professional and personal life of the principalship! The Principal’s Chair will help new principals prepare for their new leadership role.”
—Dr. Paul Cruz, Superintendent, Austin Independent School District, Austin, TX
“With 10,000 baby-boomers retiring each day in America, leadership transitions abound, and that makes The Principal’s Chair especially timely for rising school heads and principals. Written in a frank style that conveys the accumulated wisdom of the author’s many years as an educational leader, it reminds us all of on-the-ground realities that take time to learn and that are easy to forget unless you keep company with sages like Judy Knotts.
She avoids plodding theoretical abstractions and capitalizes on rich human experiences, using brief and telling anecdotes to illustrate central messages—which hold true for all of us who lead schools, whether public, private, religious, or independent. If you draw inspiration from listening to observant colleagues reflect on ‘lessons learned’ from their careers, this will be a very satisfying and uplifting read, as it reaffirms that our lives as leaders make a profound impact on those we serve in our schools.”
—James McManus, Executive Director, California Association of Independent Schools, Burbank, CA; Member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Board of Trustees, Washington DC
“We need great principals to have great schools. Enter Judy Knotts who writes with authenticity earned from her years as a highly successful principal. Her chapters are full of lessons learned on how to lead, build an effective team, treasure people, and how to rally, motivate and inspire the entire school community. Her book is easy to read and vibrantly alive with rich and memorable examples that illustrate the theories, methods, and practices that when implemented will help develop great principals, the kind that can create the outstanding schools our children need and deserve. It’s a terrific book— chock full of wonderful and practical ideas to help aspiring, new, and experienced school leaders reach greatness.”
—Dr. Mary Grassa O’Neill, Faculty Director of the School Leadership Program, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA
About the Author
Judith D. Knotts is a seasoned school head, leadership expert, and writer. She is adept at combining curated theories of being a CEO with vivid and varied examples of doing or not doing an outstanding job as a school leader. With experience gleaned from decades of observing principals in action, Dr. Knotts has been a consultant to schools, a member of the National Advisory Board for the Harvard Principals’ Center, and co-director of the Joan L. Curcio International Women’s Leadership Conferences at Oxford University. She has served on accreditation teams for the Independent School Association of the Southwest (ISAS) and is currently a commissioner for the Texas Catholic Conference Education Department.
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