Every day, parents send their children off to school, putting the responsibility for their kids into the hands of instructors and faculty. While the role of teachers is pretty apparent, here’s a look at what the rest of the school administration does.
Assistant Principal/Vice Principal
The Vice President of the United States is to the President as the assistant principal is to the principal. Basically, the assistant principal’s role is in the title (he or she serves as an assistant to the principal), with duties including disciplinary actions, getting involved in parent-teacher conferences, and putting together improvement plans via budgets and other inventories. However, of the role’s many duties, the main goal of an assistant principal is to keep the students and school safe.
The athletic director is the head of the athletics program, with duties including directing and offering guidance to the school sports program, being in charge of the conduct of all coaches, preparing a budget and allocating athletic spending, and scheduling and coordinating trips. An athletic director may be a coach or a teacher in addition to being an athletic director, although mostly the athletic director role is just one full-time job.
While more common in colleges and universities, deans are also occasionally present at middle school and high school levels. The role of the dean is to have authority over a specific area (“Dean of Students,” “Dean of Student Affairs”).
A more dated term that’s sometimes more common outside of the United States, headmasters may also go by terms such as headmistress or head teacher. As the most senior teacher or leader of a school, a headmaster’s role is similar to that of a principal.
A principal is the most senior leader of a school, the head administrator who is in charge of managing major administrative tasks and overseeing the actions of students and teachers. A principal creates policies and programs, plans academic calendars, handles school budgets, and makes decisions that have short-term and long-term outcomes.
The school board is a group of laypeople voted in to preside over a school district, developing rules, supervising finances, and evaluating programs. However, of all its duties, its biggest one is hiring a superintendent.
School counselors aren’t just in charge of handing out college applications. They often offer a mental health perspective in order to understand how to help students have the best possible academic experience, providing skills support, problem-solving, and conflict resolution techniques. They exist to help with everything from academic and career planning to helping build tolerance among students in the school community.
School nurses are usually the only health professional students see on campus, and while nurses will help when it comes to bloody noses and other common ailments, they can also assist with emotional and mental health problems and chronic conditions like diabetes or asthma. They may be consulted when it comes to field trips and thinking through worst-case/disaster scenarios.
The school secretary is the lifeline of the school, the filter through which outsiders communicate. School secretaries deal with registration, attendance, immunization requirements, after-school programs, and setting up appointments to talk with principals or teachers. The school secretary’s office is like the Grand Central Station of the school because this is where everyone comes in and often has to check out before they leave.
Appointed by the school board, the superintendent is also known as the chief school administrator, or the CEO of the school district, mainly because he or she works closely with the school board when it comes to hiring other administration members and creating goals for the district. Other titles for this position include “commissioner,” “chief education officer,” “chief executive officer,” and “secretary,” and it can exist at the state or district level. It’s the superintendent’s job to evaluate a principal’s performance and consider how to distribute financial and human resources across the district. Overall, the main duty of the superintendent is to figure out what’s best for the students.
The Bottom Line
Parents and families know the names, but don’t necessarily know the roles of these school administration titles. It’s important to know who does what in a child’s school in order to know where to go when it comes to problems and other issues that may arise.