My Story: Caleb Archer

Leadership Connections

My Story: Caleb Archer

Leadership Connections

We often discuss the relational nature of learning and the impact a good educator can have on the lives of their students. The same is also true in leadership. A good leader impacts their staff both personally and in their professional practice. So, as I start contributing blogs and information into a public forum, with my biography already on our website and at the bottom of each article I contribute, I thought I would share my journey.

This year I am on a journey doing something that I felt ‘I had to do’.

You may have heard of Larry Walters, a truck driver that soared to fame on a lawn chair in 1982. It’s a story I love.

On July 2nd, 1982, Larry tied 42 helium-filled balloons to a Sears lawn chair in the backyard of his girlfriend’s house in San Pedro, California. With the help of some friends, Larry then secured himself into the lawn chair which was anchored to the bumper of a friend’s car by two nylon cords. He took with him supplies, including and large bottle of soda, a parachute and a BB gun to shoot out the balloons when he was ready to descend. His goal was to sail across the desert and hopefully make it to the Rocky Mountains in a few days. But things didn’t quite work out for Larry. After he released the first cord, the second one also snapped which shot Larry into the LA sky at over 1,000 feet per minute. So fast was his ascent that he lost his glasses. He then climbed to over 16,000 feet. For several hours he drifted in the cold air near the LA and Long Beach airports. A commercial airline pilot first spotted Larry and radioed the tower that he was passing a guy in a lawn chair at 16,000 feet. Larry was ready to go home but when he started shooting out a few balloons to start his descent he accidentally dropped the gun. He eventually landed in a Long Beach neighborhood. When he was interviewed by the times after his flight he simply said “It was something I had to do,” (Barry, M. 2015)

“It was something I had to do.” I think that everyone has had that feeling, but how many of us follow it through? Of those who do, there are those who end up with inspirational stories and others who end up with better impulse control. I had both of those thoughts when I heard about the opportunity to be a part of a startup project.

The whole idea of building something from scratch, rather than having to re-model or add on to existing projects appealed to me, but the risk of leaving a safe and enjoyable position with a good team also made me pause. In the end, it was circumstance that made me take the leap and, as with most start up projects, it has been an interesting journey.

As a middle and high school principal, I have always put students first and student learning at the centre of everything we do. This has not changed, but the way I do that now could not be more different than it was then.


In my new role, I have enjoyed being in the design team for two campuses – one brand new and the other a renovation. I have helped form policies and procedures to allow us to recruit and retain high quality teachers. I have had to think of all the little things that are taken for granted in existing organizations – because you only have to think of these things once (at least you hope so).

As I continue writing, the topics mentioned above are some of the ones I will be writing about.. along with Educational Leadership (my passion). If anything I write strikes a chord with you, I can be contacted through ORIGINS Education and am happy to discuss any of my experiences and the lessons learnt.