By Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) — When we cover schools we talk a lot about talented teachers, but what makes an extraordinary principal? WBZ-TV traveled to Swansea, Mass. where an award-winning school leader says it requires the courage to take risks in order to demonstrate kindness and joy, and his success speaks for itself.

How many principals do you know who’d do this?

“We thought it was going to get a few hundred hits and then in a couple of days it had like thousands,” said Joesph Case High School Principal Brian McCann.

And it helped make McCann a national Digital Principal of the Year.

Principal Brian McCann (WBZ-TV)

According to McCann, “if you’re not going to be a risk taker how do you expect your teachers or your students to become one?”

Taking risks is what McCann is all about.

The video wasn’t his debut on social media either. McCann uses Twitter to promote inclusivity and post photos on “positive sign Thursdays” that connects with students.

Theater teacher Neil Geronimo explained, “Every Thursday he’s outside with a sign. The first thing he wants the students to see is him welcoming them with something positive.”

Mccann said, “It might be the only kind voice they’ve heard yet. What an awesome responsibility to have. So they’re going to hear nice things from me.”

He’s been a state and national principal of the year and his school is a U.S. News and World Report 2018 School of the Year. But McCann’s bravery in embracing social media propelled him one of three national Digital Principals of the Year.

“The power that you can take control of your school’s story was the most profound thing for me,” McCann said.

Awards hanging in Joesph Case High School in Swansea (WBZ-TV)

“I think to be in high school now — you have so many possibilities,” he said. “I think it’s a time to experiment positively.”

History teacher Adam Palmisciano said, “His expectations are high and he models them so, therefore, our expectations become high.”

Some of the world’s toughest critics — high school students — are his biggest fans.

“He’s very charismatic!” said junior Chloe Shea.

“He creates a very warming environment,” Junior Nathaniel LeBoeuf.

“He’s just so energetic and he has such a positive tone about everything — he makes everything fun!” said senior Courtney Jacobson.

“He just makes so many connections among students,” said junior Luke Sylvester.

Principal McCann poses in front of his positive signs with students (WBZ-TV)

So what makes an outstanding principal? “They have to know there is an adult there for them who cares about them, who knows that they’re in school, who knows them by name, and who loves them,” answered McCann.

For any principal who believes they don’t have a big enough personality to pull this off, McCann says yes, you do, you just have to dig in hard, and if you need any help, you can call him at Joseph Case High School in Swansea.

We’d like to tell more stories about outstanding teachers during this school year so if you know of an outstanding teacher who deserves to have their story told, email us at

Paula Ebben


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