The Changing Landscape of School Leadership: Recalibrating the School Principalship

M. Scott Norton Rowman & Littlefield, 2015, 155 pp. Principal, May/June 2016

M. Scott Norton
Rowman & Littlefield, 2015, 155 pp.

Principal, May/June 2016

The role of the principal is embedded in an ever-changing world. The challenges modern-day principals face scarcely overlap with those of decades past. The urgency of acknowledging this shift and embracing the needed change is the premise of M. Scott Norton’s work.

Achievement, servicing special needs, implementing change without funding, addressing increasing misbehavior, cultivating a learning climate, and compensating for a lack of role preparation are several areas Norton highlights as significant contributors to a growing list of challenges that principals face. He identifies these contemporary issues not just as problems, but as symptoms of change that represent tasks to be resolved by the school’s leading agent of change—the principal.

After identifying these issues in chapter one, Norton spends time further elaborating on each one as well as giving both historical groundwork and practical recommendations for “attacking” these challenges. Using case studies and thought-provoking discussion questions, Norton does a notable job of helping readers identify the issues within their own programs, embrace the need for personal and program reform, and focus on their responsibility as the standard-bearers for implementing change.

Norton identifies the school’s mission statement as the cornerstone for visionary leadership and an essential tool for overcoming today’s challenges. The book presents helpful guidance in collaborating to develop a mission statement. The book also focuses on the need to recalibrate the position of the principal to include position analysis, training in educational politics, and time management assistance. Norton highlights the pressing need for qualified, prepared leaders and even suggests initiatives such as early interest programs, stricter admission requirements, and even an administrative academy in conjunction with relevant leadership programs.

The Changing Landscape of School Leadership is very manageable and leaves readers not only with the almost overwhelming reality of the changing educational world and the tremendous need for visionary leaders, but also with a sense of optimism that by embracing change, we can effectively propel the educational system forward.

Reviewed by Jennifer Klipp, the elementary assistant principal at Bob Jones Academy in Greenville, South Carolina.

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