George Lucas Educational Foundation

I am aspiring to be an administrator for Jefferson County Public Schools. Any insight to help me become an administrator?

I am aspiring to be an administrator for Jefferson County Public Schools. Any insight to help me become an administrator?

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Eric Sheninger's picture
Eric Sheninger
Senior Fellow at the International Center for Leadership in Education

Here is my list of advice:
-know the law
-exhibit passion for what you do
- support your staff
- work to become an effective communicator
- model what you expect from your staff
- accept that fact that you don't have set working hours
- collaborate and involve other in the decision-making process

Philip's picture

With one exception, Eric, above, is correct. In addition to those, ask yourself WHY you want to do it:

- do you want to distance yourself from kids? (it WILL be more time at the desk, I promise).
- do you want to put a barrier between you and colleagues? (happy hour with your fellow teachers are out - you will be in a evaluative role and in a position to remove people from the classroom.)
- do you have courage of our conviction? Get others OPINIONS and VIEWPOINTS, but do NOT otherwise involve them in the decision process. That is YOUR pay grade. YOU have to be able to articulate a decision. If something begins to smell in the aftermath of a difficult decision (and if it rattles parents), your "fellow decision makers" will leave you like first class passengers on the Titanic. If you think you can say, "the Faculty and I ..." you're on thin ground. Decisions have to be mission-based and grounded in philosophy. You will be a fool to think otherwise (or an ego maniac).
- are you ready to share the rewards? While others may run from the difficult decisions, when things go WELL, and you were the main champion, you DO need to share the spotlight with colleagues (even if they weren't there when the rain fell and the wind howled!).

All said, I love administration, headaches and all. You can really shape a school. It's NOT the posh job many teachers think it is. It's hard work, and it is LONELY MUCH of the time. Stay involved in teaching if you can - it will keep you close to the kids and will "legitimize" your role. And if you're from a public school district, get to a private school first. You don't need thorny teachers unions.

Good luck!

John's picture
Founder of

Hi Pandora,

If you want career advancement advice, my blog can help you. I'm an educational consultant and former superintendent and principal. You can find my blog at:

I'm looking forward to your success.

Len Tomasello's picture
Len Tomasello
51 years of experience as teacher and school leader. Very interested in helping elementary/middle school children improve SEL skills.

After nearly 40 active years as a school leader in both private and public schools, I've spent the last 6 years still enjoying school leadership as an "interim" principal in many districts. I've been in schools anywhere from 8 weeks to 2 years and when I left, parents, kids and staff agreed that I "made a difference!" I share this not to build up my ego, but to support my claim that school leadership can be very effective if one is true to his/her basic beliefs (and you need to know what those are!!!). You have to be an active listener and one who responds to teacher/parent concerns. First and foremost, you need to get out of your office and be VISIBLE! Schedule time each day to visit classrooms and interact with your staff and kids. It's one of the rewards you can still enjoy.

Don Leigh's picture

Humbly be willing to take credit for nothing and give credit for everything. If we always do what's best for kids, we know in our hearts and so will others that we are making a positive difference for kids. Always, and not just often, bring in the best new employees and if you can't, wait till you can. Base this on the highest standard for the work that is to be done, your school and its culture needs. No one ever won the Derby riding a mule, it takes a thoroughbred. Across the board (I hesitate to say from top to bottom), everyone in your organization has some ability and if you set the climate and have the attitude that reflects your expectation for them to use their ability and creativity. Of course you will supervise that and keep your and their focus on the mission of your school. This is the foundation for growing a positive climate for students to learn in and for staff to produce optimum daily learning and teaching situations that is best for students.

Karla Reiss's picture
Karla Reiss
President, The Change Place

I am nearby in Boulder and a leadership coach. I strongly suggest you schedule a 90+ minute coaching and assessment session to determine your strengths as a leader and identify important areas to focus on to ensure your success.
feel free to contact me through my website,

Sounds like you have a passion to lead. Good luck in your pursuit in JeffCo.

Theresa Stager's picture

Be patient. I have been looking for a few years and it is a long process. Good luck and keep in touch with your PLN. They can help like no one else.

Frank Palatnick's picture
Frank Palatnick
Nobel Peace Prize Nominee 2008, Semi-Retired UN Advisor/Education

The most important factor in education leadership is ' The Student '. As long as you keep that in mind you will be successful. I have been to various administrative and executive seminars both here and abroad.the one thing that I see is missing from the dialogue is empathy. Education equals the facilitation of the mind's understanding times collective compassion. That is copyrighted by me. To me, compassion means being moved by the student. Become part of him/her. Feel what the student is feeling. I am aware that there are teachers and administrators are both aware of this as well as practice that. However, I feel that there is not enough of these professionals who get into the mind and heart of the people sitting at those desks.

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