Catholic High School Leadership

What does Catholic high school leadership look like to you? Does your school follow a traditional model of a one person head of school? Or has your school adopted the newer President/Principal model of leadership? Perhaps your school maintains a unique hybrid model that is somewhere in between.

The principal of a Catholic high school used to be responsible for what was happening inside of its walls – leading his/her faculty to provide a quality education to students within a faith-filled community. But gone are the days of simply focusing on what is happening in the school building. Catholic schools have become big businesses to be managed and marketed. There is increased competition for student enrollment and financial resources.

As a response, over 50% of Catholic high schools have adopted the President/Principal model of leadership. In this model, authority and responsibility are shared between two equal leaders – the President, who is responsible for planning, development, and marketing and the Principal, who is responsible for the academics and daily operations of the school. Proponents agree that this dual leadership allows for a greater degree of focus in each area.

However, it can be challenging for a school to leave behind the traditional model of a single leader. It can be difficult to persuade the school community that it is a necessary change. It is certainly cumbersome to separate the responsibilities clearly and to leave room for adaptation. Adopting the President/Principal model requires a financial leap of faith as well, something that not all Catholic schools can afford.

Therefore, some schools create a unique approach that works for their school community. Some add a position such as Advancement Director. This person can relieve the principal of some of the planning and marketing responsibilities, without the necessary equal salary.

Catholic school leaders have a position of both responsibility and service. They are called to nurture the intellectual and spiritual growth of students. They strive to maintain and advance their institution. Theirs is an enormous job.

What type of school leadership have you experienced? What are some challenges that you have faced? What benefits have you enjoyed? Please join our conversation by commenting.

You can read more about the President/Principal model at Bob Regan’s blog. He is an executive search consultant overseeing the Catholic Schools Practice at Carney, Sandoe & Associates.

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