As I visit schools and classrooms, I am always struck by the obvious impact the leadership has upon the Catholic school. A plethora of studies have indicated that positive leadership is the reason why schools succeed or fail. I have seen situations where demographics and finances work against a school, and yet the institution thrives due to an effective leader. In a school setting, leadership is embodied by the principal. How the principal inspires, communicates, organizes, and holds people accountable has a dramatic impact upon the quality of teaching and learning, as well as the presence of the faith in the school.
The importance of positive leadership cannot be understated. In our work to define a Vision for Schools, Leadership has been identified as one of the seven areas of focus. The Leadership Task Force has met on multiple occasions to discuss how we can recruit, train, and retain qualified and positive leaders in our schools. The Task Force, which is made up of educators, university representatives, and other stakeholders, has defined a clear need for a Leadership Academy to foster new and aspiring school administrators.
A school embodies its leader. While I have been impressed by the principals of our schools, I know that we must make certain that new leaders are waiting in the wings. In order to realize our full potential, we must employ principals who possess a true heart for Catholic education, and how exemplify effective instructional, religious, operational, and community leadership. These principals must be supported by pastors, presidents, board members, and Archdiocesan officials who are poised to both uphold the principals and hold them accountable.
In short, we must tap into the existing vast talent of our principals and ensure that the next generation is ready to take the reins when necessary. Our principals must somehow embody the persona of Christ, the ultimate teacher and leader, and be ready to move our schools forward into the new millennium.