Leadership for Rural Schools by Donald M. Chalker

Leadership for Rural Schools by Donald M. Chalker

Author:Donald M. Chalker
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Published: 2002-02-15T16:00:00+00:00


Several of the school leaders interviewed for this chapter spoke eloquently in their advice to someone thinking about becoming a rural school principal. The advice of all fourteen interviewees was similar. As might be anticipated, they primarily spoke about the need to build positive relationships with the people in the rural community. Their suggestions can be divided into four categories: (1) become part of the community, (2) focus on people and relationships, (3) move sincerely but slowly, and (4) expect to work hard.

These “words of wisdom” also help to conclude this chapter by focusing on important aspects of rural school leadership. Anyone considering a rural school principalship should consider the following advice—Become Part of the Community.

One principal suggests, “If you are going to be an administrator in a rural area, live in the community, become a part of the community. Trying to be a principal and live elsewhere can be destructive.”

Another advises, “You need to develop a sense of being a part of the community—attend community events, church, NAACP meetings. Otherwise, your job will be uphill. Some people in administration come from rural places and understand the system. It helps to be like that.”

A third principal puts it plainly, “I would say, immerse yourself in the community. Learn about it; become part of it. Most administrators fail in small communities because they do not become part of it. Therefore, they have little or no support system.”

But we hear a word of caution from a fourth principal who said, “Parents feel like this is their school. It is the center of the community. They feel they own it. As an administrator you are only a guest.”

Taken together, these are sound suggestions for someone moving into the rural school principalship. We are reminded not only of the importance of becoming part of the community, but also that, depending on the circumstances, an administrator hired from outside the community may always be perceived as an outsider. In my discussions with these school leaders, I learned that some of them had become integral members of their communities, but others felt they would never be “one of them.”


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