By Carolyn Chandler, Strategic School Partners
It’s August, and you are more than ready to take the reins of your new school. The board’s transition committee has done a great job of helping you settle in; you’ve met all your trustees, you’re getting to know your administrative team, you’ve done a deep dive into school finance with your CFO, and you’ve even had dinner with several of the school’s major donors. Congratulations!
But what else might you need to consider? What more could you be doing to pave the way for the most exciting – and challenging – job you will ever undertake?
Here are five ideas, one for each of your constituent groups, that could help smooth the road ahead:
Other experienced heads will undoubtedly have other ideas for you, so be sure to make friends with your elders. By the way, if you are one of these elders and have read this far, please share your ideas. If we can contribute in even one small way to clearing the path for our successors, we should surely enjoy the privilege of doing so.
Driving near my house in uptown New Orleans, one must be continually on the lookout for potholes – big potholes. The inattentive driver can dent a wheel, bust a tire, or completely throw off her alignment if she doesn’t dodge these seemingly minor menaces. There will of course be metaphorical potholes in the road ahead of you as a new head of school, but the alert driver can start dodging now. Have fun this year, and please, drive safely!
Carolyn Chandler is a partner with Strategic School Leadership. She began her administrative career at Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga before becoming assistant head and then head of school at Metairie Park Country Day School in New Orleans. She has served as vice-chair of the ISAS board, faculty and council member for The Heads’ Network, and member of several committees on the NAIS Board. Carolyn has served as a field instructor and member of the advisory committee for the Klingenstein Center at Columbia University. Her involvement with five New Orleans charter schools has been extremely meaningful for her, including serving as an interim CEO of Bricolage Academy
Strategic School Leadership works closely with school leaders – heads, governing boards, and administrators – in the interest of creating places where teachers can flourish in their life work and students are inspired to learn. The firm advises governing boards about a range of crucial issues including the qualities necessary for school leadership, focusing on the school itself.
In this recording, we joined SAIS President Debra Wilson for the new Trustee Education Series focused on best practices in independent school governance, including boundaries, confidentiality, committee structure, and more. The curriculum is designed for heads of school, board chairs, and trustees.