Jeff Meadors: Highly effective principals model good behavior

Jeff Meadors

Jeff Meadors

When schools work communities prosper.

School principals play a critical role in bringing communities together. Stephen Covey's "The Leader in Me" demonstrates the value of strong building leadership.

Muriel Summers, principal at a struggling A.B. Combs Elementary School, is one of the leaders showcased in Covey's work. Summers aligned Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" with school leadership.

Employing Covey's tenets, A.B. Combs garnered national recognition where reading scores rose 32.3 percent and math improved by 22.6 percent. By being proactive and putting first things first Combs became the top U.S. magnet school.

Elaine McEwan's "Ten Traits of Highly Effective Principals" points to a set of characteristics necessary to develop highly effective principals who create communities of learners with high academic and behavioral expectations.

Highly effective principals listen; they connect. Turnover is low in their buildings; teachers don't beat the buses out of the school driveway. Hailed as expert instructional leaders foremost, these leaders motivate change through enthusiasm, trustworthiness, respect and modeling. They don't create layers of people through whom teachers must labor to make requests.

Effective principals model good behavior.

Ineffective leadership results in an ecology of moral decay where bathroom graffiti demonstrates collective disregard for leadership. Greetings and salutations are replaced with hallway chatter and updates on who has landed a transfer or a job in another county. The focus on students goes missing as teachers, locked in a culture of fear, place understandable value on survival and quick departure.

When sole providers for families resign from teaching with no job secured for the following year the collapse of leadership has peaked. Ultimately, the climate grows out of sync with district goals as a laissez-faire culture and cheap tricks precede chaos where students run the building. Drop outs increase. Graduation rates fall. Trust decreases.

This is school failure, and it carries ominous implications for property values, crime and intellectual prowess. It assaults spirit, pride and excellence and engenders an evidentiary feeding frenzy for supporters of vouchers and state-run charters.

In such cases a thorough flushing may positively impact student success and renew public trust in schools. Turning it around is not easy, yet it is non-negotiable when student success and community prosperity rest in the balance.

Jeff Meadors represents District 1 on the Newton County Board of Education. He may be reached at Jeffrey.meadors@gmail.com.


Crazyhooker99 3 years, 7 months ago

I have to agree school principals do play a critical role in bringing communities together. However when the principal doesn't want to help in that equation we have a serious problem. It helps to have a dedicated want to help the children kind of Administrator. I have seen that out of sight out mind principals are a huge distraction to our children and they do act out on it. I think that it takes alot to take a school back once that bad taste has been put there on the other hand it's not impossible and I think Newton County is I desperate need of this now.

Nicely put Mr Meadors!!!


vampirelover 3 years, 6 months ago

I wonder if he will be named in the new lawsuit?? This article makes me think he might.


ShannonBlack 3 years, 6 months ago

He will be so sued for this. Sue you. Sue me. Sue the paper. Sue anyone who speaks their mind. But don't sue the person who has let our school go down to the dogs.


amp72 3 years, 6 months ago

This is 100% spot on. And what else is true is that leadership ABOVE principals should step in and at the very least listen to the public, investigate, communicate, and provide the leadership that may be lacking. This goes for superintendents, BOE personnel, elected officials, etc. At the very least try to get to the bottom of allegations and determine their validity. That's called negligence if it is ignored. Too much is at stake. If a teacher bullies students, fails to follow procedure, disregards federal mandates, ignores Special Education protocol, etc then that teacher is summarily dismissed. Where is the accountability for administrators and others?


Romulus 3 years, 6 months ago

When sole providers for families resign from teaching with no job secured for the following year the collapse of leadership has peaked.


I SO identify with this, having witnessed it and lived it. Principals can make or break a school. But who hires and rehires the principals? And who stands in the way when a principal wants to hire an exceptional candidate to fill their teaching ranks? Who is constantly trying to censor information from the public? Who gives lip service to transparency, while vigorously prosecuting against any attempt to illuminate and improve our system? Criticism is punished. Innovation is quashed. The free flow of ideas is staunched. Cooperation and collaboration die under a yoke of fear, suspicion and distrust. Who in their right mind would want to work under such conditions? And how do we expect our children to learn in such an atmosphere?


Sign in to comment