“If we’re not taking risks we’re not growing”: WoFo’s Educator Spotlight is on Principal Eric Fieldler

Write on Fight on’s Teacher Spotlight features awesome educators who are dedicated to teaching and inspiring young people everyday.

In the second edition of the 2017-2018 school year, WoFo features elementary school Principal Eric Fiedler.  I would like to thank Eric for his interview and dedication to the educational enterprise.

Taking risks in both teaching and learning yields far greater growth and achievement then playing it safe.

Who is Eric Fiedler?

Besides being a principal at Forked River Elementary School, I am the son of William and Barbara Fiedler, brother to William Fiedler III and Carolyn Sheppard, husband to Kara Fiedler, and father of Dylan and Dakota Fiedler.

Personally I am passionate about all things outdoors, daily workouts, and visiting cool places with family and extended family.

Tell us about your background in education.

I am a career change educator who left the financial world after working for Merrill Lynch as a financial consultant to attain my elementary education degree and certification from Richard Stockton College.  I went on to earn my graduate degree and administrative certifications through New Jersey City University.

I taught first grade for five years in the Little Egg Harbor Township School District.  I then moved into administration as a vice-principal and curriculum coordinator at Sea Isle City Public School and then  Elementary #1 in Middle Township Cape May County.  In 2007 I was hired by the Lacey Township Board of Education to serve as the principal of the Forked River School in my hometown where I have spent the last ten years,

If you could give your entire staff one book, what would it be and why?

I would give our staff a copy of The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney  I would want this wordless adaptation of one of Aesop’s greatest fables to serve as a reminder to our elementary educators that despite the pressures of our current standards based environment, every child should be given opportunities often to create their own versions of stories free of the confines we find in so many “teach to the test” educational climates within today’s classrooms.

What is the one essential ingredient needed to build a successful school culture?

Trust.  The development of trust between all stakeholders provides the necessary safety for risk taking without fear of judgement or any other negative repercussions.  Taking risks in both teaching and learning yields far greater growth and achievement then playing it safe.  If we’re not taking risks we’re not growing.  If we are not growing we are not striving for self-actualization.

If you could build the perfect leader, consisting of three leaders, living or dead, who would you pick and why?

I would choose Walt Disney for his transformational leadership style that motivated and inspired his employees to achieve using their own personal beliefs, creativity, and strengths.

Next, I would choose Harriet Tubman for her servant leadership that modeled humility for the selfless-sacrifice she endured for the betterment of humanity.

Lastly, I would choose General George Patton for his situational leadership that provided the flexibility necessary to read and react to the ever changing and complex situations of our world past and present..

If you weren’t an educator, what would you be?

If I wasn’t an educator my third attempt at a career would involve pursuing a job as a harbor pilot.  I enjoy time on the water and the challenges of operating complex machines.  Navigating a harbor provides discrete technical challenges in a maritime environment without enduring the long-term passages that take ocean going captains away from their families for extended periods of time.

What advice would you give to first year teachers?

Plan and develop your lessons based on the most current research and best practices.  Self-assess your lessons often using your own video/audio recordings and communicate with professionalism and care with students, parents, and colleagues.  Lastly and most importantly, have fun and don’t sweat the small stuff!

What is the worst advice you commonly hear given to teachers?

In various phrases with the common message being “Fly under the radar and get the job done…” is the very worst advice that I have often heard be given to new educators. 

I expect all staff members to play an equal role in the collaborative environment of the school house.  Everyone has their own unique educational, career, and life experiences that bring perspective and innovation to the team.  This serves to enrich and improve upon the collaborative efforts of our mission.

What is your favorite movie?

One of my all time favorite movies is The Man Without a Face (1993).  Based on Isabelle Holland’s 1972 Novel of the same name, it teaches us the importance of tolerance and reserving judgement.   It also demonstrates the incredible influence an educator can have on his or her students.  An influence that is boundless.

 Who inspires you?

This is always an interesting question.

Certainly my family members each serve as inspiration for me in unique ways. Rather than sharing specifics regarding the inspiration provided by my family, I am going to choose a more broad response as to who inspires me.  I find myself absolutely in awe of and drawn to those folks who I encounter in life who have reached our ultimate goal of self-actualization.  I find these folks to be incredibly genuine, kind, and free of judgement and negativity.  They bring out the best in those around them and are inspiring to be around!


Follow Eric on Twitter @FRSprincipal and can be contacted by email at efiedler@laceyschools.org .

You can also check out Eric on the Forked River School website.

Do you know an awesome educator dedicated to inspiring and teaching others?

If so, please consider nominating them to be featured on Write on Fight on’s Teacher Spotlight Series. You can contact me at writeonfighton@gmail.com.

Be well,


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