Terror in the Halls: How to Become the High School Principal


Imagine walking down a hallway full of children and adults. The children cower in fear and run quickly at the sound of your voice. They smile and show respect and follow every word that is said to them. A simple nod of the head is enough to get disagreeable adults to do what they need to do. The community holds you in a place of high honor, and heads always turn when you enter the room. If this sounds like the dream job of a hungry dictator, you might be right. If this sounds like the job of a high school principal, you would be a lot closer to the truth. The reality is that even though being a high school principle entails great respect and honor from students, teachers, and the community, the job is more demanding than some people realize, and not the stuff of bad dreams as we might remember from our own school days.

The high school principal is fundamentally a leadership job. The position requires strong leadership skills to serve as the leader and supervisor of a school’s day to day activities. Primarily, high school principals manage and assist teachers and all other staff. They oversee the school staff’s professional development, the school budget, and student disciplinary matters. Finally, the high school principle interacts with the public as a representative of their school. Key skills for a high school principal are decision making, critical thinking, communication, and leadership.

First and foremost, the individual aspiring to be a high school principal must have a passion for education, and more specifically a passion for higher education. Generally, an individual begins teaching with a bachelors degree and the appropriate licensing from whatever state in which they want to teach. They begin as teachers and spend time in that profession gaining knowledge and experience while beginning to pursue the secondary education required to become a principle. This is important to consider, because many states will not hire individuals as high school principles unless they have a good teaching background. Schools want their principals to have a good ground floor understanding of the demands that teachers face so that the high school principle, in acting as their administrator, can be the best advocate for their professional concerns. Niceness is not a job requirement, however.

In pursuing the necessary post secondary education needed to become a high school principle, the individual here has a great deal more flexibility in their degree choices than would be apparent. While education is a logical choice, many consider law and administrative leadership. Add to this that the individual considering becoming a high school principle must have relevant work experience that may be outside the realm of education. Even prior to beginning their teaching career, many might consider the military as an option to gain relevant management experience.

Armed with her two-way radio and neatly pressed shirt, the high school principal will have reached this position through a great deal of accomplishment. With the proper education, experience, and most of all the leadership skills at hand, the road to becoming a high school principal is long, challenging, but in the end one of great fulfillment.

Janet Rivas writes for education blogs where you can read about online education degrees.

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