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School Principal


Description

Most students live in fear of one thing: being sent to the principal's office. Though it is never as bad as we think it will be, visiting the principal is definitely not something anyone looks forward to.

And that's something principals aren't always too happy about. Though they are the people who set rules, arrange for discipline, and enforce penalties on both students and teachers alike, principals do much, much more than just lay down the law, there is a lot of good stuff happening in those offices, too.

Principals are leaders. They divide their time between working with students and teachers and taking care of the administrative aspects of the job, but throughout it all they are leading the school towards a common goal.

A large part of their job involves making the school work positively for both students and teachers. The principals work on developing and coordinating educational programs with staff, parent groups, and the school board. They are in charge of the teachers, including hiring them, training them, mentoring them, and letting them go if necessary. They communicate with the school's surrounding community and other schools, they spearhead fundraising campaigns, and they assist in acquiring supplies for all extra-curricular activities. They meet with concerned parents, troubled or abused children, social workers, and school psychologists in an effort to address problems within the school community. The students often get to know their principals as they walk around the school, attend concerts, plays, purchase student anthologies, and watch soccer games and volleyball tournaments. As they lead by example, principals try to encourage student pride and school respect in an effort to maintain a safe and prosperous educational environment.

Of course, besides dealing with students, parents and other professionals, principals also have a to do a lot of administrative work. Principals spend hours writing reports, analyzing and creating budgets, managing schedules and ensuring curricular needs are being met. They must meet with department heads, student council representatives, and school board trustees, attend countless meetings, and make decisions regarding spending, discipline, and policy. They spend a substantial amount of time at their desks, before school starts and after all the students have gone home, ensuring that everything is running smoothly, the students are happy and the teachers and support staff are satisfied.

The day-to-day life of a principal isn't easy. It is hard, tiring, and frustrating at times, but it can also be extremely fulfilling, for the school community as well as for the principal who heads it up. A good principal has children's artwork in their office, knows the first names of the school's maintenance staff, and always has an open door, even if the paperwork is piling up, their head pounds, and their are feet sore from walking the halls. A good principal knows that every problem, question, or accolade deserves to be heard.
 
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  Average Earnings  
Entry Level Salary:
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Average Salary:
$80,708
 
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  Interests and Skills  
Successful principals are organized, passionate people, who are as both flexible and firm, driven and relaxed. They must be leaders, who enjoy working with many types of people. A good sense of humor, loyalty, and a good set of morals will also come in handy. They should be decisive, and have problem-solving skills, especially under pressure. They are effective time managers, with fantastic communication skills, both written and verbal, as well as listening skills. They are open to other cultures and beliefs, and must be good motivators. They are also fit, with enough stamina to keep up with schools full of children, parents, and teachers who all have problems, concerns, and stories to share.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Prepare and oversee budgets
  • Hire, train, and suspend teachers
  • Oversee curriculum application
  • Meet regularly with concerned parents, teachers and school board members
  • Guide and discipline students
  • Meet with community members
  • Organize fundraising activities
  • Attend student performances, school events, and athletic tournaments
  • May teach
  • School principals spend most of each day involved in the day-to-day administration of the school. They walk the halls and visit classrooms, they monitor activities and deal with deviant students. They also attend meetings, analyze budgets, interview prospective staff, and travel to other school communities to discuss common issues. Sometimes they take over classrooms, and teach during a teacher's absence.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Principals work in elementary schools, junior high schools, and high schools. They work in offices within the school building, along side secretaries, assistants, and vice-principals. In larger schools, the administrative staff is much bigger. Principals also work in classrooms, auditoriums, and outdoors for special events and athletic competitions.
  • They work long, action-packed hours. They often work in the evenings, attending meetings and catching up on paperwork. They usually get weekends free, unless they have conferences or special events to attend.

  Long Term Career Potential  
School principals can return to teaching, or can work as school board administrators. They can also become business owners and managers, counselors, or write books and articles on their experiences in the world of teaching and education.
 

  Educational Paths  
The first step to becoming a school principal is the completion of a bachelor's degree in education, which enables individuals to work as a teacher for a while. Once they have established a reputation as a caring, trustworthy teacher, they may be promoted to a department head position, after which they may be promoted to vice-principal, assistant principal, if not principal.

There are a few things that will help prospective school principals to get this position more quickly. A master's degree in education, educational administration or educational supervision is recommended, as are courses in economics, sociology, child studies, psychology, business, and management.
 

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