Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) introduced resolutions in both chambers of Congress recognizing October 2012 as National Principals Month.
Having been a building principal for more than 15 years myself, I understand the role of the principal is multifaceted and many times not the glamorous career some of us expected to have when we started our quest to be principals. Arriving at work many days at or before 7 a.m. and working through the school day into evening activities until 10 p.m. or later is typical rather than rare. These hours we have contact with children many times longer than their parents have with them during a normal day. For that we are humbled and privileged to have that opportunity.
Making connections with young people that can impact a child's future is an immense responsibility. We discipline children, we celebrate achievements, we encourage character, and we give opportunities for success through education achievement and extracurricular activities. These relationships often come back to us years after the student has left our building. Often I am approached by a student who says "Remember me?" Most of the time I do, but I am always honored they seek me out to renew a connection.
But the students are not our only focus because without great teachers all of our efforts would be lacking. Great, not just good teachers are our focus. Principals must be able to support, reinforce and educate all educators in the building. Teacher evaluation is an important part of this process. A new teacher evaluation can take up to five hours for each single observation and feedback conference. This process is done three times a year for new teachers. All tenured teachers are evaluated once every three years with a similar process. Without effective teacher evaluation the opportunity for growth is marginal.
Communication is a major aspect of the daily activities. I was once away at a conference for one day and had over 200 emails waiting for me when I returned. It is not just the emails, it is communicating face to face with staff, students, colleagues and parents.
The administrators in this district are passionate about providing the best educational environments for all students. I have seen these ardent principals advocating for their staff and students in numerous ways. We have a wonderful team of principals in this district. Have you thanked one lately?
Lisa J. Koester is Director of Human Resources & Student Issues for the Marshalltown Community School District.