Season 4, Episode 1 of FocusED with Jessica Cabeen #FocusED

by | Oct 14, 2022 | 0 comments

5 min read

Jessica Cabeen Joins FocusED to Discuss What It Means to Lead With Grace 

This is Season 4, Episode 1 of FocusED, and it features our guest, Jessica Cabeen. It was originally recorded live for a studio audience in Delaware, provided as a professional development experience in collaboration with the Delaware Department of Education, the Delaware Academy for School Leadership, and The School House 302. Don’t miss what Jessica says in this episode about leading with grace while maintaining high expectations…and so much more.


Jessica Cabeen Brings Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

Jessica is the Principal of Alternative Educational Programs and Austin Online Academy in Austin Minnesota. Prior to that, she was the principal at Ellis Middle School as well as the “Happiest Place in Southeastern Minnesota,” the Woodson Kindergarten Center. She has been an assistant middle school principal, a special education assistant director, and a special education teacher. 

Jessica was awarded the NAESP/VINCI Digital Leader of Early Learning Award in 2016; in 2017, she was named the Minnesota National Distinguished Principal; and in 2021, she was named DIVE Principal of the year.  

She is a NAESP Middle Level Fellow and a Future Ready Principal. Jessica is the author of Hacking Early Learning, Balance Like A Pirate, Unconventional Leadership, and Lead with Grace: Leaning into the Soft Skills of Leadership.  

But by far her favorite space is the one that involves being with her husband Rob, two sons Kenny and Isaiah, and of course the family dog-Herman. Jessica can be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @JessicaCabeen and on her website:


FocusED Show Notes with Jessica Cabeen

Jessica talked about going from one level to another and learning how to communicate effectively. 

Don’t miss what she says about vulnerability. 

Jessica talked about letting go of the perception that you have to lead with perfection. Leaders need to celebrate errors…what she called normalizing errors. 

Jessica talked about balancing grace with high expectations, what it means to have a tough conversation with people who you care about. 

You’ll love what she says about setting up a crucial conversation. 

The sandwich setup makes it so that people get their carbs but they miss the protein…you’ll know what we mean when you listen to the show. 

Leading with grace is not always leading gracefully. Jessica talks about what leaders need as they grow and the skill of grace. 

Leaders need to practice self-regulation by checking their energy and attitude each day. Listen to what Jessica says about her “miracle morning.” 

Don’t miss what Jessica says about having an “open door policy.” 

Jessica wants to see the student voice elevated in schools—seen, heard, and valued in schools. 

Jessica talks about brain development research and resources. Check out The Power of the Adolescent Brain by Thomas Armstrong 

She mentions learning more about career pathways so that students can see themselves beyond schools. 

Book number five is on its way: Principal in Balance.

Quotes from Jessica Cabeen

Breathe, smile, take a break, and have a life. ~ Jessica Cabeen

No one needs to be May-tired in October. ~ Jessica Cabeen 

It’s not what you say but how you say it. ~ Jessica Cabeen

Value people before their positions. ~ Jessica Cabeen 


Thanks for listening to FocusED, an educational leadership podcast brought to you by TheSchoolHouse302 @ where we publish free leadership content. Go to the site, subscribe, and you’ll get all of our content sent directly to your email. 


FocusED is your educational leadership podcast where our mission is to dissect a particular focus for teachers and school leaders so that you can learn to lead better and grow faster in your school or district with more knowledge, better understanding, and clear direction on what to do next.


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