Good Leadership Starts With Strong Recruiting

Guest post by Cameron Soester

Principals and assistant principals have a host of responsibilities. We deal with school safety, the learning environment, staffing needs, student discipline, and even lunch duty. In the midst of everything, there is one vital piece that I believe is often overlooked: recruiting the next wave of school leadership. We have a responsibility that extends beyond our own buildings, and that responsibility is to make sure that our entire educational system has strong leaders in the pipeline. How do we make this happen? We need to turn our attention to recruiting and developing individuals to take on leadership roles so that our work to improve schools and student learning continues long after we leave our positions.

Why the leadership pipeline matters

I enjoyed reading the document from NASSP and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) called “Leadership Matters” that shares the important research conducted by The Wallace Foundation and other groups about the importance of our jobs and how our leadership affects student achievement. Reflecting on the behaviors and priorities of effective leaders that the article discusses, it was clear to me that every principal should be making talent development a top priority. Each of us could identify at least one or two individuals that we feel would make great administrators, and we must encourage those teacher leaders to take that next step. Making sure we take this responsibility seriously is how we ensure the next round of principal leadership is successful.

Recruiting the next wave of Nebraska school leaders

In Nebraska, our state affiliate, the Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals (NSASSP), provides a strong platform for talent recruiting and leadership development. The statewide organization is divided into five regions. Each region has an executive board and is in charge of planning regional professional development opportunities for their members. I am a member of the Region 1 executive board, and a part of our planning process includes the recruitment of new school leaders. We have four meetings each year within our region, and the program consists of professional development, networking, and a meal. We encourage our membership to bring potential or aspiring administrators to our meetings. Last year, we also set aside one meeting as an emerging administrators meeting. During this gathering, we established a program that included local colleges and universities to talk about their educational leadership programs, advice from new principals, and also the wisdom from those who have established themselves in the principalship.

The Nebraska Council of School Administrators (NCSA) is the umbrella organization for the NSASSP and our elementary counterpart, the Nebraska Association of Elementary School Principals (also NAESP), and they host an emerging administrators workshop each spring. They send out a notice to the membership to encourage folks we believe would make great principals and assistant principals to this workshop. This program spans two Saturdays, and it includes informational sessions about school administration, resume reviews, mock interviews, and many more great opportunities to grow your leadership potential. This is just another way that we are taking charge of the recruitment of potential leaders in Nebraska.

Helping everyone find their best professional path 

The impact of our Region 1 efforts has been significant. We have not only made better principals and assistant principals out of those already serving—myself included—but we have brought new faces to our community of educational leaders. Some of those recruiting efforts have made potential leaders realize that they wanted to pursue a career in leadership in some fashion. At the same time, others understood that they belong in the classroom. The goal is still the same. We want the best people in our schools because our students deserve it. After all, great schools happen because of great leaders.

What are you doing to establish a pipeline of future administrators in your states? What are your goals for improving the building leadership within your school district? How can the NASSP and your state affiliates help support this effort?

Cameron Soester is the assistant principal of Milford Jr./Sr. High in Milford, NE. He was the 2016 Nebraska Assistant Principal of the Year. Follow him on Twitter @csoester.

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