School Principal Jobs
Essentially, the role of the school principal is to make sure the school runs effectively. The demands of this goal continue to increase with school principals being in charge of staffing, management, and accountability.
Education requirements vary according to state and even district. Many principals have a master’s or doctorate degree in education administration. An internship and a passing score on a standardized exam are usually required. Previous teaching experience is highly regarded. Each state has specific certification or licensure requirements. With a master’s or doctorate in education leadership or administration, principals can advance to superintendent positions.
The average salary of a school principal varies according to the school level. Elementary principals earn an average of US$86,323, middle school or junior high principals earn an average of US$92,844, and senior high principals earn the highest average of US$98,634 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Principals are in charge of maintaining an efficient school. They must oversee and be knowledgeable about all aspects of the school. Budgets must be set and approved. A daily schedule for teachers and students must be established or maintained. They are typically the main public relations figure for their school. Staff must be hired, trained, and evaluated under the principal’s guidance. School safety is another responsibility of the principal. With lock down procedures and a system that monitors whoever enters the school, safety has become a large concern for principals. Then there is the classic issue of student discipline.
Increasingly, principals also have an accountability role in addition to the historical management role. With the increased importance of standardized test results, principals are held accountable for running a school that is proficient or above and continually improving. When test results are released, the principal heads the movement to analyze past scores and develop methods for higher future scores. Often, the principal and teachers will work together to create measurable objectives for the upcoming school year.
Principals have become increasing involved in the areas of curriculum and instruction within the school. They must closely observe the teaching practices of the educators in their school and intervene to improve situations where students are not learning at the expected level.
Principals also play an important role in the school’s special education program. Meetings for students with Individual Education Plans (IEP’s) must be attended by an administrator.
Strong communication skills are essential for an effective principal. When working to improve and reform the school, the principal must be able to have the support of the entire staff. Strong, respected professional relationships must be created by the principal.
The principal is often under the direction of the superintendent or assistant superintendent. Reliable communication must exist between the principal and his supervisors. Some large schools employee more than one principal or employee one or more assistant principals to accomplish all of the given responsibilities. Strong professional relationships must exist between all of the school administrators for effective management of the school.
Parents are another group principals must communicate well with. Parents often direct complaints about their child’s education directly to the principal. The principal must also contact parents about serious discipline issues that occur.
Principals are highly involved in the special events occurring during, and often after, the school day. Seen as a representative of the school, principals frequently attend arts programs and sporting events. At the elementary level, principals are usually involved with parent teacher organizations. At the high school level, the principal supports academic and sport booster programs that are run by parents and community members. Involvement with fundraising is also common at all levels.
Compared to most teachers, principals work year round. During the summer months, the next year must be planned, new staff is hired, and building maintenance is managed. Principals frequently attend workshops or further their education during the summer months. Additionally, some districts offer summer school programs for several weeks to the entire summer that must occur under principal supervision.
Increasing demands on principals has lead to greater job stress according to the BLS. While principals can make an effort to have contact with all students in the school, they typically spend the most time dealing with behavioral issues, which can also be a cause of stress.
Those interested in becoming a principal should be driven for excellence, strong problem-solvers, and good team players. Creativity, flexibility, organization, and dedication are essential characteristics for a successful principal.
With the entire school under the principal’s control, one can truly shape a positive educational environment. Talented principals can take an under-performing school and transform it into a school of excellence. When such transformations occur, the principal is having a positive effect on countless people each day.
The following resources offer additional information.
National Association of Secondary School Principals
National Association of Elementary School Principals