Preparing New School Administrators for Success

By Gail Covington McBride

After three years as an assistant principal, Kevin Hobbs was excited when he was named principal of Parkland Middle School in Montgomery County, Md., but he was also intimidated by the obstacles he faced.

Hobbs felt he could make a difference at a school that had not fared well on state achievement tests and was on the state’s needs improvement list. The resources were in place, and Superintendent Jerry Weast had made it clear that improvement was a priority.

The challenges, however, were daunting. Half of the school’s student body lives below the poverty line. Most families do not speak English as their first language. Fifty-five new staff members had to be hired -- immediately -- and an aerospace magnet program was to be in place when school started.

And it all had to be accomplished in temporary quarters, across town, while a new building was being built.

 “I felt woefully inadequate for this task,” Kevin said recently. “It wasn’t until near the end of that first year that I realized that although I had a lot more to learn, I had been well prepared for the challenges that I faced.”

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