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Association of Washington School Principals
Washington Principal | Volume 2– 2022-23
From the AWSP Executive Director
The Rest of the Story
The Sacrifice of Capturing Hearts and Minds
Dr. Scott Seaman
Executive Director, AWSP
The Rest of the Story – “He’s here! He’s there! He’s every…where! Roy Kent! Roy Kent!”

That’s the chant from the crowd about the fictional English Premier soccer star Roy Kent in the ever-popular sitcom, “Ted Lasso.” Roy has earned the favor of the crowd due to his relentless presence on the soccer pitch. He’s here! He’s there! He’s everywhere! Ted Lasso and the Richmond Football Club have Roy Kent. The students, staff, and school communities in our state (and country) have James Layman. James is the Director of Student Programs for the Association of Washington Student Leaders (AWSL). And, just like Roy, James is here! He’s there! He’s everywhere! AWSL is one of the premier student leadership programs in the state and country. And as James would quickly tell you, his work isn’t about student leadership in the traditional sense, but rather about inspiring every student to lead. No boundaries, excuses, or historically entrenched systems should prevent any student from leadership opportunities. James and AWSL have built programs, resources, classroom supports, whole school assemblies, and much more that span the needs of the K-12 system. While AWSL is widely known for their secondary programs, their “Reimagining Recess” Program at the elementary level is truly changing the landscape of elementary schools across the state. From training and working directly with adults, to working with student groups of all ages, James is there. Actually, he’s here. He’s there. He’s everywhere!
James gave me permission to share his experiences. Not for pity. And, not for finger-pointing. But rather as a reminder of how much work is yet to be done in our system.
If you looked at James’s calendar (or his odometer) you’d wonder if his schedule was even humanly possible. Can you really start your day doing a virtual keynote address for a conference on the east coast, then pop down to train an entire district of elementary paras in southwest Washington, then bounce north to Tacoma to lead a whole school assembly on bullying, before capping the day with a middle-level program in Ellensburg while on his way to Spokane?
No, but he does it.
Then the next day, he repeats a similar pattern with a huge impact in three or four different regions of the state and/or country. Day after day, week after week, the pattern is the same. James is a relentless advocate for school culture and helping all students lead. His tireless passion for the work, and his Nissan Pathfinder, literally take him to every corner of our state and into countless classrooms, playgrounds, gymnasiums, conference centers, and boardrooms. He leaves every audience inspired and wanting more. It’s not uncommon for hordes of kids and/or adults to swarm him at the end of a session. He masterfully changes the hearts and minds of both kids and adults as his influence begins to reshape a school’s culture. AWSP is blessed to have a sister association like AWSL working hand-in-hand to create healthy, positive, and hope-filled schools. We consider our partnership as the bookends of school leadership; students and adults working together to create and maintain school culture. A culture built on respect, trust, authenticity, unconditional love, belonging, access, and opportunity for all. This simply doesn’t happen unless the students and adults work together. The last few years have pushed the education system to the brink. The trials and tribulations of society have spilled into the schools on top of the consequences of COVID closures that we are only beginning to unpack. Rebuilding and maintaining school culture is harder now than ever before. This challenge is taking a toll on our school leaders as we’ve seen crisis-level leadership turnover and attrition at all levels across the system. Maintaining a culture is an exhausting constant. Why is it so demanding?
Just ask a principal. Or just ask James. As he travels the globe helping schools improve, James sees it all. He sees schools that just need a slight culture boost and others in complete disrepair. He sees hope, and he sees hurting. He sees calm and chaos. He sees collaboration and conflict. He truly sees it all as he walks into a school’s “culture.” James quite often doesn’t know exactly what the culture will be like until he arrives and begins working with the kids and adults. Whether the culture is good or bad, James is there and ready to make a difference. Most days are magical; others are unspeakable. One day, as James was leading an entire gymnasium of students in an all-school assembly, a student yelled down from the bleachers, “Why do we have to listen to this n****?” On another day, James was holding the door for elementary students to come into the gym, and a little second-grader said to his face, “Get your brown hands off of our doors.” Should I keep going? Do you need to hear more examples? These are only a few of the countless school-related examples, not the ones he also experiences at gas stations, restaurants, and hotels as he travels across our state, impacting the lives of others. James gave me permission to share his experiences. Not for pity. And, not for finger-pointing. But rather as a reminder of how much work is yet to be done in our system. Yes, James is lauded throughout the state and country for his work. He brings the same positive energy, enthusiasm, and passion to the work, day after day, regardless of what he might have encountered the day before. However, everyone needs to know the rest of the story. The horrific story behind his ever-present smile. Everyone needs to act. Everyone needs to walk out front, alongside, and behind James. This burden is not his to bear. It’s all of ours. Students, teachers, principals, parents, and community members need to come together to set expectations for the culture we desire in our schools and the consequences for us all when those expectations are not met. This is about the way we honor, respect, encourage, value, and treat each other. This isn’t about politics, it’s about humanity and the future of our great democracy.
James, like Roy, is here. He’s there. He’s everywhere. But James, like Roy, is but one person. Thankfully, his work with AWSL will ensure there are more people like James out in our communities, teaching the kind of skills needed to create a little more kindness in this world. While James and his story impact us directly in our association, we know students and leaders of color face similar circumstances and experiences. We recognize there’s always more beneath the surface, and when the opportunity to come together to support each other and lift each other up presents itself, we must act. As Ted Lasso said, “If you care about someone, and you got a little love in your heart, there ain’t nothing you can’t get through together.”
Dr. Scott Seaman joined AWSP in the fall of 2013 after serving as the principal at Tumwater High School. In July 2018, he assumed duties as Executive Director.