With two of the Roanoke Valley’s largest high schools poised to have new leaders next year due to retirements I thought this might be a good time to talk about the importance of strong leadership in schools and succession planning in schools.
Salem High School Principal John Hall became the second high school principal in as many weeks to announce retirement plans. Hall joins Patrick Henry High School Principal Connie Ratcliffe, who also said recently she will retire at the end of the school year.
Research shows that second to classroom teachers school leadership is the next most important school factor in student achievement. And guess what? Leading a school ain’t easy. I would venture to guess it’s some of the most thankless and stressful work there is. I once worked with a superintendent who likened being a high school principal to being the mayor of a small city, a metaphor I’ve always liked.
High school principals deal with budgets, personnel issues, student discipline, scheduling and more. They are often the first to arrive and the last to leave. Many can be seen walking the halls and greeting students by name. They are part educator and part chief executive.
So, with a job as important and difficult as principal, why don’t more school systems have succession planning? This Education Week piece points to an example of such planning in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The system partnered with Winthrop University to groom future principals.
So, are local school systems doing enough to train future leaders? What qualities do you think are important in a principal? Would you want to be one?