The Ever-Growing Role of the Assistant Principal

In an unexpected way, being from Alaska actually helped me prepare for my role as the 2019 NASSP Assistant Principal of the Year. When you are from Alaska, you get asked a lot of the same questions over and over again when you meet new people. So I was prepared when in this role, I was asked: “What are your responsibilities as assistant principal?” In honor of National Assistant Principal Week, I would like to share just a fraction of what assistant principals do every day:

  • We support our principals in good times and in difficult times.

    Assistant Principal Meghan Redmond helping seniors add finishing touches to their graduation speeches. Photo credit: David Piazza

  • We provide a sounding board and feedback.
  • We are scheduling and organizing wizards!
  • We act as a shoulder to cry on for students and staff.
  • We share our positive school story far and wide.
  • We mediate difficult situations with children and adults.
  • We balance the need to complete office tasks with visiting classrooms and interacting with students and staff.
  • We are constantly cheering everyone on and celebrating success!
  • Ultimately, no matter what we are doing, we ensure students are set up for success.

In a year of constant interactions with assistant principals from across the country, I have come to realize that the role of the assistant principal cannot be clearly defined. Some assistant principals focus their time on one element of the school, such as student discipline, staff development, student activities, or community involvement. Some assistant principals, like me, have responsibilities in every part of school operation. Some assistant principals have clearly defined responsibilities completely separate from the principal’s responsibilities, while others work in close collaboration with the principal on everything. But while the responsibilities may not be the same, what is common among successful assistant principals is a certain set of personality traits: being a strong team player and having a positive attitude; putting others before self; having a mindset to get the job done no matter what; and, above all else, putting students first.

Principal Robin Jones and Assistant Principal Meghan Redmond, working as a team, rolling out our new Chief Ivan Blunka School mission and hashtags! Photo credit: Robin Jones

And at a time when school leaders face growing challenges, assistant principals also represent an important source of continuity—and future leadership. One out of 5 principals leave their schools each year, according to the U.S. Department of Education, and the average tenure of a principal in the same school is only four years. Efforts to attract, train, and support new school leaders, such as the six-year, $85 million effort sponsored by the Wallace Foundation, are increasingly recognizing the importance of supporting new assistant principals as they begin their careers and providing the coaching and mentoring opportunities needed to prepare them to become building leaders themselves.

For me, the year 2019 will definitely hold a special place in my heart. It has been an absolute blessing and honor over the past year to represent assistant principals, my school, and the state of Alaska as the 2019 NASSP Assistant Principal of the Year. I simply can’t put into words what the experience has meant to me. I want to say thank you to NASSP for the honor—and congratulations to the new 2020 National Assistant Principal of the Year!

This week, join me in thanking the assistant principal in your life for all they do this week and every week of the school year.

Meghan Redmond is the assistant principal at Chief Ivan Blunka School, a K–12 school in New Stuyahok, AK. New Stuyahok is off the road system and only accessible by air or boat. She has worked in rural Alaska for 10 years. Meghan is the 2019 NASSP National Assistant Principal of the Year. Follow her on Twitter (@alaska22redmond) and the Chief Ivan Blunka School on Facebook at the “CIBS Eagles Fan Page.”

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