Wetterholm’s Principles for Perfect Principal

Steven Wetterholm, Staff Writer

With the recent announcement of new principal John Walker, the school eagerly anticipates meeting and learning more about its new leader.  Although I am a graduating senior, I have contemplated the qualities that I hope Mr. Walker will exhibit next year and in the years to come.

I will always remember my middle school principal as an excellent example of a successful leader, which undoubtedly contributed to his subsequent promotion as a superintendent of schools.  He was always approachable, an excellent listener, hard working, encouraging, intelligent, patient, professional, and exhibited humility with a collegial management style.  Above all, he was always a student advocate, and the student body knew he was their cheerleader.

Being a good objective listener to students, parents, faculty, and staff is a vital quality if people are to believe that a principal cares about what they think.  It is important for a principal to receive information and ideas from these audiences who are so critical to a principal’s success.

In addition to listening skills, a principal must be a strong communicator who is open, honest, and who communicates frequently to all parties so that they feel important, informed, and trusting of the principal.

I believe that being a positive role model is critical if a principal wishes to be respected.  Respect must be earned, and one cannot earn respect without practicing what one preaches.  This includes exhibiting the same strong work ethic expected of faculty, staff, and students.  A principal must have character, whose values are trustworthiness, respect, and integrity, if he/she is to build and expect character in others.

Effective principals are highly visible on campus to take the pulse of what is actually happening inside and outside the classroom.  I believe that high visibility is a natural expression of interest, care, and concern.

Setting high academic standards and consistent standards across all classrooms, subjects, and teachers is an important role for all principals.  Strong principals will hire the best faculty and staff, with the goal always being to meet the needs of the students by providing them with the best educational opportunities, and that starts with the best teachers who enjoy teaching and who care about student learning and success.

Successful principals encourage and appreciate staff and students, showing them that they are valued and are his/her greatest assets.  This includes encouragement and appreciation for all staff and students across all curriculums, from academics to special needs to the arts and athletics.  A strong principal is also a leader who is not afraid to take risks, to innovate, to make decisions with input from others, and to lead with compassion and vision.

Last, but not least, having a love for students, their education, and their best interests is the cornerstone to a successful principal and school.  It is my hope that the new principal will be a student advocate and will exhibit all of the above qualities that I admire in a principal.