Co-Principal? What’s that?
We get this question a lot – “What exactly is a Co-Principal”? To be honest we don’t always know how to answer that question. However, we do know this leadership model has great potential, especially at high needs schools. We hope this blog will allow us to reflect on our work. We also help it allows us to share our experiences and we continue down this unique path. We would like to provide some background on how all of this came together.
We both worked for our present superintendent, Dr. Moody, in Rock Hill, S.C. We both became school principals at about the same time and as you know the new people often stick together. As we got to know each other we found that we have a strikingly similar philosophy of education. We also realized that we are very different and could learn from each other. We started to work on projects together outside of our schools. We have presented numerous times across the state of South Carolina. We founded EdCamp South Carolina when we decided to look for a different form of PD. We even started a weekly twitter chat in Rock Hill when we were embarking on a 1-1 journey in Rock Hill.
We often found ourselves saying we wished we could find a way to work together in the same school building. We knew it would be awesome but really thought it was impossible. I mean, how would two principals share the same school. To our surprise and delight, the Rowan Salisbury School system posted a position for a “Transformational Leader or Leadership Team”. We thought, wow, what a great opportunity. We began to dream of the possibilities and what may come of this.
We decided to apply and see what would happen. It was a tough decision. We were both experienced principals, in our 6th and 7th years at our respective schools. We had both experienced great success at high poverty schools. It would have been easy to stay where we are and continue to build on the success of our schools. However, that’s not us. If you know either of us, you know we are not ones to rest on past success or familiarity. We wanted a new challenge and this was it.
We became Co-Principals/Transformational Leaders as Knox Middle in the summer of 2014. We knew we had a challenge to tackle. Our school had been in constant leadership turnover over the past 10 years. Our test scores were extremely low and our school had a horrible reputation in the city. It was very difficult to attract teachers to the school. Many students were multiple years behind. Saying we had some work to do was like saying there is water in the ocean. If we had let our worries consume us we never would have taken on this new adventure. There were many unknowns and potential pitfalls. There was no rulebook or guide for how a co-principalship works. We knew this would not be easy. We also knew we were ready for this challenge!