What Does a Principal Do? (page 2)

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Updated on May 8, 2013

When should I contact my principal?

When it comes to issues that are specific to your child's education, your teacher is probably the first person you should turn to for assistance. Even if the teacher doesn't exactly have the authority to make a decision, he may be able to provide some insight into how you and your child can achieve your goals. After a chat with the teacher, it may be time to schedule a meeting with the principal.

Myers pondered situations in which a parent should go over a teacher’s head. "If it involves the teacher directly, inappropriate actions about a teacher or a student making a report about a teacher, they should go through me first," he says after careful thought. In any situation involving a teacher-child relationship, he can insert himself as the "impartial player" to help resolve any conflicts.

Are there times when I should contact someone else?

Get to know the dynamics of your school's structure. Every school has a hierarchy, and as a parent, it's good for you to know it. At West End Elementary School, Myers doesn't have vice principals or assistant principals to help him. But he does have a social worker and counselor who step in to handle issues that arise with students when he isn't available to handle them himself.

Your school may have a vice principal to handle disciplinary matters or an academic dean to go to for academic questions. Some schools have headmasters, who have a different set of responsibilities entirely. Your principal can explain who you should talk to about what. Figure out this information early in the school year, so that if issues arise, you're not scrambling to figure out which administrator you need to call or visit.

Your principal is usually the central leader in your school. He holds the vision that pushes the school, and your child, forward. "For me, every child can succeed with the right support players around them … and that takes planning," Myers says. When you converse with your principal, keep in mind that he's not only thinking about how to make your child successful today, but also how to set him up for academic and social success in the years to come.

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