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President's Perspective: Raising the Principalship Above the Radar

By Mark Terry
Setpember 2012, Volume 36, Issue 1

The fall season means different things to different people. To some, it’s about high school football. Others revel in the beautiful fall foliage. To all of us principals across the nation, however, it means that school is in session. By now, a few weeks of the school year have gone by and the teachers and students in your building have settled in for a great season of learning.

Most folks in your community, however, believe that the start of the school year represents principals’ transition from a long summer vacation. They don’t know that you spent the entire summer taking advantage of professional development opportunities to hone your leadership skills. They didn’t notice your car parked at the building each day as you interviewed prospective teachers for the next school year. They are unaware that this summer you likely spent days and nights working on schedules, refining curricula, and making sure supplies and materials would be ready for the year.

The truth is that a principal’s work during the summer, much like their job responsibilities during the school year, often flies under the radar. But principals are the ones who end up cleaning up after school events. And when a child is having difficulties at school because of dysfunctional family issues, many times principals make that tough visit to the child’s home. There is no time clock for the principal. We’re on “twenty-four-seven.” Kids want to be around us whether we are at school, at the hardware store, or even at a restaurant celebrating a wedding anniversary. If you are a principal, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

In my eyes, you are all heroes! You make a difference in the lives of children each and every day, fighting the good fight, even in this politically charged time. As president of NAESP, one of my goals is to highlight the important work of principals, elevating it above the radar. Your school communities and elected representatives need to hear about what you do for children and for families.

I know that many principals don’t want to be out front, taking credit when it’s due. But principals need to be appreciated for the positive influence they have on children, and no one can tell the story of school leadership like a principal can. So, after 33 years as an educator—23 of which have been spent in the principal’s office—I want to “pay it forward” by championing the role of the principal. I’d love to learn more about what you need, and especially your thoughts on the benefits of collaboration. Just drop me a line at NAESP and I need you to help raise the principalship above the radar. 

Mark Terry is president of NAESP and principal of Eubanks Intermediate School in Southlake, Texas.


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