Spotlight on Assistant Principals

April 2017, Volume 40, Issue 8

The assistant principal occupies a unique position at his or her school. The old stereotype of assistant principals as the enforcers of discipline is challenged by the much more varied and nuanced roles they occupy in today’s schools. As administrators, instructional leaders, and family partners, they not only provide critical support to the principal, but play an essential part in making a school successful. As part of a Principal magazine roundtable, we asked assistant principals to share some of their best practices on the assistant principalship. Here’s what they had to say:

On the ideal working relationship with their school principal:

We set out to define our leadership style as a collaborative team approach. We accomplish this by communicating consistently throughout the day, sharing responsibility for specific tasks, and asking for guidance and feedback from each other and our staff.

Amanda Yates, Associate Principal of Frances C. Richmond Middle School in Hanover, New Hampshire.

On balancing administrative work with instructional leadership:

I personally enjoy attending pedagogical conferences and workshops with teachers, which provides opportunities to connect on a more informal level and learn together. By leading the way in professional development, learning together has shown to be a successful motivator on both sides of the desk.

—Jennifer Klipp, Elementary Assistant Principal at Bob Jones Academy in Greenville, South Carolina.


On the biggest challenge for APs:

The biggest challenge is finding your own leadership voice and style that both allows for a united front with your school principal, as well as gives you the ability to share your own vision and passion within the school organization.

—Sheilah Jefferson-Isaac, Assistant Principal of Northern Parkway School in Uniondale, New York.

You must work with the drive of an entrepreneur starting a new business to efficiently lead a school to success. Balance takes planning and a mission, and then prioritizing each day around school duties, this mission, and personal goals.

—Stanley McMichael, Assistant Principal of Western Elementary School in Newnan, Georgia.

On strengthening the leadership team between principals and assistant principals:

Finding a way to communicate regularly with your principal is key. However, the nature of our position often leaves little time for face-to-face conversations throughout the day. Using an app called Voxer has been the greatest asset in enhancing communication with my principal in that I can leave messages to plant the seed for honest conversations. We use Voxer for topics ranging from the mundane to those that spark courageous conversations around equity, diversity, and cultural responsible pedagogy.

—Sheilah Jefferson-Isaac

Read more best practices from assistant principals in this Principal roundtable discussion: “What Assistant Principals Think.”

Copyright © 2017. 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.