An elementary school principal is mainly responsible for the administrative oversight and instructional leadership of his or her school. US elementary schools—sometimes called primary schools—usually include students in kindergarten through either fifth or sixth grade. The principal oversees the students, teachers, and other employees. He or she typically develops and implements academic and disciplinary policies in conjunction with a governing body, such as a local board of education. The principal also usually monitors the school budget and approves new programs and other expenditures. Principals often have advanced degrees in fields such as education administration, and many of them are former teachers.
The elementary school principal normally hires and supervises the classroom teachers and other staff members. He or she usually presides over staff meetings and often leads teacher training workshops and other types of professional development activities. Another role of the school principal is to enforce disciplinary policies and procedures related to student behavior. He or she typically works in conjunction with teachers, students, and parents to ensure a productive learning environment.
Public elementary schools in the US are usually required to meet certain standards regarding teacher competency and student academic achievement. An elementary school principal helps to develop the curriculum and selects appropriate learning materials in order to comply with the various standards set at the national, state, and local levels. A private school principal, however, might not be subject to such standards and would only have to meet certain requirements set forth by the school board or other independent governing entity.
Along with the day-to-day administration, an elementary school principal is generally responsible for the long-term management of the school. This obligation usually entails financial oversight, such as reviewing and approving expenditures. In addition, he or she is usually considered the school’s representative in the community. Therefore, school principals often attempt to maintain positive working relationships with students, parents, and other local organizations.
An elementary school principal usually has an academic background in education administration or educational leadership. They typically earn master’s or doctoral degrees, although bachelor’s degrees are readily accepted by some schools. Many principals also have significant teaching experience, and some teachers are promoted directly to principal positions within their own schools. Several states in the U.S. require public elementary school principals to be licensed as well. They generally fulfill this requirement with training at the postgraduate level and sometimes by taking an exam. To keep their licenses current, they often take continuing education courses.