Principal Burnout

Lots of talk, always, about charter teacher burnout. Caleb Dolan, a former principal who is now KIPP Massachusetts Executive Director, is thinking about principals:

We don’t know what a ten year, fifteen, or twenty year KIPP Principal is capable of because we haven’t had one yet. We don’t know how good our schools could really be.

As with teachers there are multiple forces limiting principal’s lifespan. The job is hard. It’s particularly hard emotionally. My current role as Executive Director is much easier this way. Direct work with kids, families, and teachers is put your heart on the table work laced with joy and disappointment. I wrote about this in an earlier post; the gist was “as a principal there are no perfect days.”

The job (as currently conceived) is also deeply inflexible. The principal’s work can’t be done remotely. As an executive director I can arrive at the office late after daycare drop-off or exit early to take a call on the commute home. The principal has no such luxury since the opening and closing of school are the high points of the day for parent interactions, urgent teacher questions, and logistical snafus.

We are working with David Maxfield of Vital Smarts to figure out how to double the lifespan of our principals (from 3 years to 6).

You can read the rest of Caleb's blog here.

At the time he was diagnosed with cancer, our founding principal, Charlie, was ready to sign a 6-year extension on his contract. It would have taken him to retirement, and 13 years on the job. But he was a career educator when he started with us. This is unusual in No Excuses schools. In fact, I believe MATCH is the only charter school of our "type" ever to hire a 50+ year old as principal.

Jorge was our high school principal for the last 5 years. His wife Molly's work took them to San Francisco this summer. I wonder how long he would have remained otherwise. After what he described as a couple rough years to start, it seemed like he was in his wheelhouse.