Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Importance of Assistant Principals to the Success of Schools

Gloria Perez, Assistant Principal at Sanchez Elementary in Austin ISD
Recently, I had the privilege to visit Assistant Principal Gloria Perez at her school, Sanchez Elementary, here in the Austin ISD. It was so good to be back in a school hearing children's laughter, seeing their inquisitive faces, watching teachers demonstrate how to 'walk down halls' appropriately. There is nothing better than hearing the buzz of a happy school.
As I sat in the office waiting to see Ms. Perez, I couldn't help but notice the daily activities that take up an assistant principal's morning. Teachers needing to talk about a student, parents in line to see her, students dropping by the office for admittance to class, notes on yesterday's ending, bus issues, and on and on and on. An assistant principal is often the part of the leadership team who has her/his ear closest to the day-to-day items that make a school run smoothly.
The assistant is often responsible for school-wide discipline. Assistants most often are in charger of bus riders and parking lots. Textbooks and teaching material are also a common responsibility of our assistants. Many supervise lunchrooms full of students and play a key role in building maintenance. Many of the assistant principals who served with me became a sounding board for teachers before they came to me.
If you are an assistant principal, thank you for the work you do for our students, teachers, parents, and principals. If you are a principal with an assistant, be sure and show your gratitude for a job well done. I would also encourage principals to ensure their assistant principals learn the job of being a principal. Mentor your assistant. Give your assistant duties that will stretch them to grow into a principal.
And, by all means make sure your assistant is a member of TEPSA. I often visit schools and school districts where the principals are members, but assistants are not. Who is most in need of legal liability insurance? That would be the person who handles most discipline, who is more inexperienced in parent and ARD meetings, and the one who is overseeing state testing. Assistant principals count on TEPSA webinars for professional growth. TESPA is an important avenue for developing professional networks.
As a principal, it is your responsibility to ensure your assistant principal is a member of TEPSA.