Advice for New Principals: Be ‘Emotionally Vulnerable With Your Staff’
Melissa Hensley was starting her first-ever administrative job when she arrived months into the already underway school year to be the new assistant principal at Signal Knob Middle School in Shenandoah County, Va.
The school had experienced a lot of leadership turnover — Hensley said she was the seventh assistant principal in about four years. The administrative churn was such a sore point that on her first day, someone asked the principal: “How long are you going to keep this one?”
She outlasted her predecessors and moved to the top job in under two years, a pace that Hensley said was a bit of a challenge. She had to shift her mindset from her role as an advocate for teachers to a holistic view of the school as its main leader.
The summer before she took over, Hensley met individually with all the school’s employees. She invited them to tell her what was going well and what they thought needed to change.