Being a school principal is like being the president of a small nation, except it’s more important because the futures of children are at stake. Principals oversee every aspect of a school, including curriculum development, finances, parent and community relations, facility maintenance, safety and security and so much more. They must keep teachers and staff happy while measuring and reporting academic outcomes to their district.
No one person can be an expert in, and be skilled at, all the diverse elements of the job, and yet that is what is expected of principals. To complicate matters, the field of education is advancing rapidly, with more to know each year.
How can any principal keep up?
To provide principals with the evolving knowledge base they need, The Citadel’s Zucker Family School of Education has established the Lowcountry Principal Service Program for K-12 principals and assistant principals in the leadership pipeline. The offerings in the program were shaped by a recent survey conducted among principals and superintendents across the state that identified these critical needs:
- use of data to inform instruction,
- instructional leadership,
- affecting cultural change,
- the development of a systems perspective, and
- time management.
Centrally Located at the LGC
For ease of access to the greatest number of participants in this region of the state, the Program will host professional development sessions at no cost at the Lowcountry Graduate Center in North Charleston.
The Program will be offered starting this fall, with four professional development sessions over the course of each year. Content and discussion will be at the graduate level and may count towards professional re-certification.
Registration will begin at the end of July. It is funded by the Lowcountry Graduate Center Opportunity Fund and a Volvo Cars Community Investment Grant.
High Demand Expected
Dr. Lee Westberry, a former public school principal, and the program coordinator and lead course instructor, expect two dozen or more principals to participate in each session, which will last two-to-three days each. One school district in another part of the state has requested she travel there and teach the courses to 12 select principals.
“The paradigm shift from building manager to instructional leader has never been more important within our new age of data-backed accountability,” she said. “No amount of formal, academic preparation can help a new principal move from survival mode in the first year of the principalship to functionality in a leadership mode.”
Here are some examples of the challenges faced by principals to be addressed by the Program:
- Schools are often data-rich and information poor because they don’t know how to analyze and employ the data at their disposal to improve student learning outcomes. The Lowcountry Principal Service Program’s session on the use of data to inform instruction will help participants make sense of their sea of data.
- Management guru Tom Peters famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” A principal may enter a school with new ideas that run headlong into the entrenched culture. “We’ll teach a systematic approach to culture change,” Dr. Westberry said. “It’s a process that must accommodate all stakeholder groups.”
- Administrators may come into a school with grandiose plans to change tactics and strategies without understanding the interlocking systems in which they function. The systems perspective session will help them broaden their views and develop systems that can facilitate success.
“It’s expected that half of all local school administrators will retire in the next five years, leaving an inexperienced crop of principals and assistant principals running schools,” noted Dr. Nancy Muller, director of the Lowcountry Graduate Center. “That can only increase the need for the Program, which we are proud to help launch.”
For more information regarding the Lowcountry Principal Service program, click here.