Late last week, the Atlanta Journal Constitution published a piece highlighting a recent effort at Atlanta Public Schools to hire 17 "school business managers." These managers would handle the business side of school operations, things like transportation, food service, budgeting, etc., which would then free principals from overseeing these tasks. Principals would also receive coaching and training to help them spend more time with teachers and students.
The program is an outgrowth of Wallace's earlier SAM work and underscores the core findings of so much of our school leadership work: Principals who have time to guide teachers and strengthen instruction can dramatically influence a school. How well principals lead is a top factor in whether teachers stay or leave, and the principal’s role is second only to teachers in terms of the impact on student learning, said Jody Spiro, director of education leadership for the Wallace Foundation.
"Principals are really, really crucial for school improvement and student achievement, but that means not being a superhero. A lot of people have this image in their head of the principal being a superhero. That’s what Hollywood portrays, and that, in fact, is a sure route to burnout," said Spiro.