Principal’s Bookshelf: March/April 2013

Leadership Standards in Action: The School Principal as Servant Leader
By Cade Brumley
Rowman & Littlefield, 2012, 145 pages.

In this well-written book, Cade Brumley frames the work of school leaders as the most difficult and rewarding work there is. She writes, “[T]he principalship, as a noble vocation, is a moral obligation that requires a humanistic approach to leading the organization toward collective purposes. When correctly practiced, the principalship carries beauty that balances the science of relevant knowledge and the art of graceful implementation.”

Throughout the book, Brumley underlines principals’ sincere desire to help others. Her accounts of intimate visits with professionals in the field can remind us why we do this work, and how every decision we make impacts our stakeholders, from the children (always first) to teachers, parents, and community members.

For those of us who lead schools, our real­ity is that it is so much more than a job. It is a vocation—and our families and friends know this from the day we take the position. They all understand this truth more than we know. It means missing dinner to take the last phone call from a concerned parent, or showing up late to one of our own family events, always wearing that look that says, “Sorry.” Those who love and know us understand that our decisions always put children first—that is the easy part. The more difficult part, which Brumley covers, is managing all the other stakeholders and keeping the core of the school community in touch with this.

In part one, Brumley outlines the eight national core leadership stan­dards: principal, servant, visionary, instructional, organizational, collab­orative, ethical, and political. Part two provides examples and stories that are gripping, compassionate, and real.

Readers will enjoy learning about Wayne Warner of Chalmette High School in Louisiana and his experi­ence during Hurricane Katrina. For those who haven’t had to guide a school and community through a crisis of fire, flood, or other tragedy, reading about the power and pur­pose of a school leader can remind us why we do this in the first place: to make a difference, and to value and develop people.

Reviewed by Sonya Hemmen, Head of School, Ross Montessori Charter School, Carbondale, Colorado.



High-Poverty, High-Performing Schools: Foundations for Real Student Success.
By Ovid K. Wong.
Rowman & Littlefield, 2012, 91 pages.

From the moment students walk into a school, the most important success factor is the teacher standing in front of the classroom.”

This quote from High-Poverty, High- Performing Schools encompasses a philosophy which should be shared by all educators. High-Poverty, High- Performing Schools serves as a blueprint for teachers and administrators who wish to improve student performance and turn the aforementioned belief into reality.

According to author Ovid K. Wong, in order for a school to be considered a “high-poverty, high-performing school,” or 2(HP), it must have at least 50 percent or more of its student population receiving free or reduced-price lunch, and it must meet the state performance requirement of at least 70 percent. He describes five U.S. schools that fit these param­eters. He shares their success sto­ries, and gives a brief synopsis of a strategy that contrib­uted to the school’s achievement.

Wong eloquently and definitively outlines the components needed for high-poverty schools to become high performing. These components are in the areas of leadership, cur­riculum, instruction, and assessment. Wong truly excels here, taking each of these elements and expounding on how it can be approached, analyzed, and evaluated. He devotes a chapter to each point and describes how it can be improved. The illustrations and examples of each component add to the explanations, making it easier for the reader to absorb it.

Lastly, Wong pulls everything together and describes a 2(HP) model that can be used by educators to achieve success. Although the model is theoretical, stakeholders can use it as a starting point for strategizing turnaround situations. This model should be studied and considered a resource for any educator attempting to foster concrete, substantive change and improvement in a school.

I highly recommend this book as a guide for all educators, whether they are in a high-poverty school or not. The concepts Wong discusses can help any school become or remain successful. This book can be used as a resource for anyone in the educa­tional community.

Reviewed by Hester Chandley Alfred, Assistant Principal, Caroline Sibley Elementary, Calumet City, Illinois.


Copyright © National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP's reprint policy.

PrincipalsBookshelf_Alfred.pdf1.46 MB
PrincipalsBookshelf_Hemmen.pdf248.27 KB