ERIC Number: EJ1118543
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Supporting Heads: Sustaining a Flourishing Leadership Partnership
Jorgenson, Olaf; Pernambuco-Wise, Tekakwitha M.
Independent School, v76 n1 Fall 2016
When identifying their main responsibilities, most independent school trustees recite familiar priorities, such as preserving the school's mission, providing financial oversight, and strategic planning. "Supporting the head" typically falls somewhere toward the end of the list. Given that the heads of school either treasure the support they get from their boards or would like more support--or support of a different kind--boards would be wise to rethink where support for the head falls on their list of priorities and to consider what "support" means to heads. In his 2002 Independent School article, "How to Keep Your Head: Great Schools and Long-Term Headship," veteran school leader Al Adams urges boards to make the retention of heads a top priority. Indeed, Adams makes a compelling case for board members to understand the phases of headship and to support the needs of leaders over time so that their schools thrive under the stable, competent leadership of long-term heads. But what exactly does "supporting the head of school" mean? Does it have the same implications for heads as it does for trustees? What types of support do heads most appreciate? Should trustees' support change as heads advance through the phases of their career? Do the needs of male and female heads differ? These questions, in addition to the authors own conversations about their respective challenges and needs as school heads, led them to reach out to colleagues and trustees across the membership of the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), inviting feedback and collective wisdom about "head support." They sought to gather a sizable set of perceptions from both school leaders and board members, identify any consistent themes that they could share, and inform boards seeking to nourish and sustain their heads by better understanding what school leaders most need--thus fostering a deeper partnership between trustees and heads. This article provides a summary of their research, surveying 207 school heads and 59 trustees, with core advice for boards on how they can improve their support for their heads.
Descriptors: Private Schools, Board Administrator Relationship, Principals, Gender Differences, Administrator Surveys, Needs, Administrator Attitudes
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A