The Transylvania Times -

Everyday Education: Principals Have Multiple Responsibilities


April 10, 2017

Like many aspects of public education, the role and duties of the principal are defined by General Statute. In order, here are the duties of a principal:

1.Grade and classify students

2.Make and present accurate, required reports

3.Improve instruction and community spirit

4.Conduct fire drills and inspect the buildings and grounds for hazards

5.Discipline students

6.Protect school property

7.Report certain acts to law enforcement

8.Develop a School Improvement Plan and budget

9.Evaluate licensed personnel

10.Transfer student records

11.Sign driver eligibility forms

12.Establish School Improvement Teams

13.Address the unique needs of military connected students.

(G.S. 115C.288)

Formerly, one of the listed duties has been removed. Until very recently, one of the duties was to teach students to sing.

Each of these things is important but may or may not seem to be much of a job description of a principal. Many people would perhaps feel discipline of students is the most important part of a principal’s day. And some days that is true. But most days, the majority of a principal’s time is spent on number three.

The main purpose of school is to educate students. Parents and the community are a vital part of that education and the school system. It is up to each principal to include and involve the community in the day to day events of a school. The principal needs to know the curriculum of the grade levels and how to communicate the curriculum to the staff and to the community. There are many ways to do this, including teacher meetings, staff development, grade level meetings, parent meetings, open houses, conferences, and many other methods. Principals are expected to attend, and in many examples, lead, these interactions.

For middle and high school principals, there is also the large responsibility of after school activities, primarily athletics. It is important to attend and supervise activities. It allows students to see the principal in another role and shows support for extracurricular activities. Elementary principals do not spend as much time on athletics, but do have many after school obligations, including after school programs, fundraisers, parent/teacher activities.

All principals are also responsible for the safe transportation of their students and many remain at school until the last bus returns.

For all principals, paperwork is part of the daily routine. There is required paperwork at the school, local, state and federal level, all with specific deadlines and specific requirements. At the school level, this includes safety drills, sanitation reports, budget requests, attendance for students and staff, drivers’ license eligibility lists, teacher evaluations and many, many others. All reports must be timely and accurate.

A school principal also spends a fair part of every day in meetings. Some are school level, such as staff and grade level meetings, parent conferences, individual special education meetings, and School Improvement Team meetings. At the district level, there are regular staff meetings and other district-wide meetings on specific topics. There are also regional and state meetings. Some of these meetings are brief; others are quite lengthy.

A principal is also responsible for the physical upkeep of the buildings and grounds. This requires an excellent janitorial and maintenance staff and help occasionally from the community. Bus drivers and the cafeteria staff are also an important part of the school community and are part of the communication network within a school.

What is the very best part of being a principal? Of course, working with the students. While the principal does not have the close day to day interaction with every student, the principal does see most students daily. A principal will be visible to students in the hallway, seeing them off and on the bus, in the cafeteria, on the playground, and playing field and especially in the classroom. It is very rewarding to see a student make progress socially, emotionally, and educationally and to know you have a part in that growth.

(Kathy Haehnel is a retired teacher and administrator.)


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