Mentoring New Administrators

By Philip S. Cicero

My excitement about being hired as the superintendent of a suburban school district passed quickly when the school board president told me that I would be responsible for the orientation of five new administrators. So, while I was wrestling with my own transition to my new position, I would be supporting three new principals, an athletic director, and an assistant special education director with their transitions as well.

I began by reviewing the resumes of the new administrators. The background information on each one was strikingly similar -- and unsettling. Only one of the five had any prior administrative experience. The remaining four were coming from the teaching ranks or quasi-administrative positions within those ranks. They would be facing many challenges. I knew they would need ongoing support in carrying out their new roles and responsibilities. They also would need help in learning about the culture of a new school, district, and community.

Realistically, how much time would I be able to give them? Was there any another way I could get these new administrators the help and support they needed and deserved? I wondered if my new district had a new administrators mentoring program. The answer was no.

Searching for models we could use, I contacted surrounding districts. Those calls revealed that my district was not alone. While those neighboring districts had mentoring programs for new teachers, they had nothing similar for new administrators.

The need for new teacher mentoring programs is unquestionable and urgent, considering that half of them leave the profession after five years. My colleagues and I did agree that a mentoring program for new administrators was needed just as urgently.

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