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principals

Matt Saferite, principal at Ramay Junior High School in the Fayetteville Public Schools, meets with ninth grade teacher Susan Whitley, using a new teacher evaluation system to start beneficial conversations with teachers.

As secondary school principals guide their schools and teachers through a myriad of changes, it’s becoming necessary for these leaders to reinvent themselves. No longer can principals succeed by operating only as a manager—the evolving school environment requires a more extensive approach.

To develop the skills necessary to be effective in the evolving environment of today’s schools, principals have several places to turn. Here are some ideas:

A principal’s job is only getting harder, according to the latest MetLife Survey of the American Teacher. A whopping 75 percent of principals feel the job has become too complex, and job satisfaction rates decreased nine percentage points in less than five years, to just 59 percent. And seven in 10 principals say their job responsibilities are very different from what they were five years ago.

The American Association of School Administrators is doing its part to improve leadership development. Between January and May, AASA consultants are providing professional development for principals and assistant principals in the Prince George’s County (Md.) Public Schools.

“People are thirsty for an opportunity to learn everything that belongs to their jobs, from budget and finances to curriculum and instruction to school operations,” says AASA Director of Leadership Development MaryAnn Jobe.

Most principals today are hard pressed to find time for the multitasking they are expected to do, from overseeing the daily operation of their schools and interacting with parents to evaluating teachers and providing them with professional development to do their jobs at a high level.

Mary T. BarraSTEM AWARD

Mary T. Barra, General Motors’ senior vice president of global product development and an active supporter of STEM, will be the first woman to receive the 2013 Industry Leadership Award from the SAE Foundation, a global charity supporting STEM learning.

Dennis Van RoekelEXPANDING STEM

National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel announced a $500,000 challenge grant toward expanding a successful New Jersey Education Association program nationwide to help increase the number of certified science and math teachers in schools.

Gail Connelly, NAESP executive directorPrincipals represent a major force in school systems—95,000 principals are responsible for overseeing 3 million teachers and 55 million pre-K8 students.

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The Virginia Beach Landstown High School and Technology Academy administration confers with lead teachers on the five dozen professional development opportunities offered to its faculty this past February.

At some level, principals always have been instructional leaders—but never before has their role been more prominent.

First, the accountability movement—No Child Left Behind in particular—thrust principals into the spotlight on academic achievement. Then budget cuts peeled away capacity at both the district and school levels, thinning the ranks of assistant superintendents, curriculum specialists and assistant principals, who shouldered some or most of the load.

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