Learning the ropes: New school administrators learn what they need to know


Now, they can breathe.

Now, during the summer, is the time for more than 47 new Baltimore County principals and assistant principals to learn what they don't yet know – the intricacies of their new jobs, the pressures and joys, the leadership they must exude, the daily chores and unending demands of heading a large, learning community.

To that end, this week was the time for the BCPS New Administrators' Academy, a two-day boot camp headquartered in a Timonium conference center that is designed to introduce newly-minted principals and assistant principals to their new roles and responsibilities.

The Academy, which is now in its fifth year, hosted 23 principals and 24 assistant principals, most of whom took on their new roles officially on July 1. And while the intensive workshops and seminars covered a lot of ground, the administrators learned they will have plenty of support during their first year as heads of their schools.

"The New Administrators' Academy is part of a year-long leadership induction program," said Kimberly McMenamin, supervisor in the BCPS Department of Organizational Development. "NAA has been crucial in providing that broad nuts and bolts overview, (and) all of our sessions embodied the themes of 'Creating A Strong Beginning' and 'Creating A Culture of Deliberate Excellence.'"

Over two days at the Loyola Graduate Center, the new administrators heard from colleagues and executives, including BCPS Superintendent Dallas Dance, about everything from the teacher appraisal process to community outreach to legal issues in education. They delved into techniques on how best to begin the school year and how to work with cafeteria and transportation systems. And they heard about the subtleties of their new jobs, about the importance of their school staffs and parent relations and understanding that they are the leaders of their schools.

Of particular assistance, McMenamin said, was hearing from experienced and effective administrators in several panel discussions. "(They) shared their own personal transitions into their first leadership roles," she said.

After the Academy, there is much to keep new principals and assistant principals busy this summer. They will be helping to register new students, working through staffing allotments and class assignments, meeting with parents and community partners, moving into new offices and ensuring that their schools are in good condition and clean and ready to welcome the new school year. 

And soon enough, there will be no more introductions or boot camps. Students return to classrooms across Baltimore County on Monday, August 26.  

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