As an experienced educator and leadership mentor, I have had the privilege of working alongside many school principals and their dedicated teams. I am continually impressed by their unwavering dedication to the education and well-being of their students and their ability to create a culture of learning that is grounded in faith, hope, and love.
While speaking at the Christian Principals Association of BC conference in Whistler, I was reminded of how amazing the leaders are who are called to this work. I had the opportunity to share a few stories of my being called to the principal’s office when I was in high school. I attended Vincent Massey High School in Brandon, Manitoba. My sharing of what took me to the office back then was like going to a confessional. I’m sure they were all relieved that I didn’t go to their schools, but I tried to encourage them that even difficult students can turn out pretty well in the end. (I made a conscious decision to refrain from telling stories about my three sons and the number of times I was called to the ‘office’ over their behaviour or actions.)
Five Qualities of Exceptional Principals
When I think about the best principals I have mentored, I am struck by a number of qualities that set them apart from the rest. Here are five things I have noticed:
1. Passion for Learning: The best principals have an unbridled passion for learning that motivates both themselves and their students to always strive for more. They are always seeking out new ways to engage and inspire their students and are constantly on the lookout for new and innovative teaching strategies.
2. Strong Communication Skills: Effective communication is essential in any leadership role, and school principals are no exception. The best principals are skilled communicators who understand the importance of being open, honest, and transparent with their staff, students, boards, and parents.
3. A Focus on Relationships: Building strong relationships with students, staff, and parents is critical to creating a positive and productive school environment. The best principals take the time to get to know everyone in their school community and work hard to foster trusting, collaborative, and supportive relationships.
4. High Expectations: Setting high expectations for both themselves and their students is a hallmark of the best principals. They know that by setting the bar high, they can help their students reach their full potential and achieve great things.
5. Visionary Leadership: Finally, the best principals are visionary leaders who are always looking to the future. They have a clear and compelling vision for their school and are passionate about making that vision a reality through hard work, dedication, and an unyielding commitment to excellence.
I believe that school principals and their leadership teams are true champions of education, working tirelessly to provide their students with the tools and resources they need to succeed and thrive. By embodying the qualities of authentic faith, passion, strong communication, relationship building, high expectations, and visionary leadership, these unsung heroes are transforming the lives of children every day and deserve our deepest admiration and respect.