The roles of administrators in schools
The roles and responsibilities of a school administrator are varied and complex, with no day ever quite like the other.
Before the students arrive, an administrator is meeting with custodial staff, teachers, discussing student discipline and planning study groups. Then it’s out the door for bus duty and back for announcements; then to parent conferences, classroom visits, formal observations and into the cafeteria for lunch duty. The afternoon – lasting until long after the kids have gone - brings more meetings, planning, observation and guidance designed to ensure the safety and education of Bethlehem’s 4,900 students.
In the Bethlehem Central School District, there are 12 building administrators for 4,908 students. Overall, this means a ratio of one building administrator for every 409 students, although the ratios vary by building (see graphic).
Because an administrator is involved with so many different groups, communication is key, said Jody Monroe, assistant superintendent of educational programs and instruction.
“We do a lot of communication with a lot of different constituent groups on a regular basis,” said Monroe, who was a principal at the secondary level before being named assistant superintendent. An administrator has to switch gears on the fly to successfully communicate with students, teachers, parents and colleagues, she said.
BCSD administrators also create their building’s master schedule, plan events and programs during the year and collaborate with supervisors on teacher assignments. They prepare reports for the state Education Department, for their own staff and other required reports required for state and federal guidelines. They order state tests, create the schedule for testing, ensure security of exam and analyze test results to share with teachers.
“Our state testing has become quite a large endeavor,” Monroe said.
And, of course, there’s the budget. Administrators have the daunting task of preparing a budget for the year and managing expenses so that the building remains within allocated budget.
Despite all they do, there may still be some confusion as to what a particular administrator does as compared to another. This is no more the case when it comes to assistant principals and deans, said Monroe.
"People wonder, 'If you have a principal, what's the difference between what an assistant principal does versus a dean?'" said Monroe. "A lot of a dean's responsibilities are directly involved with student issues. They're meeting with guidance counselors regarding students, a lot of parent communication for something that may have come up. They may be the first person person that a student's parent may call if they have concerns or questions."
Monroe said deans are also highly involved in the overall supervision of the building and are in constant communication about any concerns.
Assistant Principals are also highly involved with students, said Monroe, but are also setting up the master schedule for their buildings (a task that begins more than six months before the start of the school year), and work directly with supervisors to coordinate courses and teacher assignments to schedule the most number of students possible.
They are also highly involved in teacher evaluation and handle student discipline issues.
But perhaps the most important thing an administrator does? Finding and retaining the best and brightest individuals to guide our students through their education.
“The most important thing we do as administrators is the hiring and evaluation of staff,” said Monroe. “Teachers are the ones who are in front of the kids everyday, and I’ve always felt that as administrators one of the most important things we do is hiring and evaluating the best teachers possible.”