Sunday, December 17, 2023

Every Assistant Principal Deserves a Champion!

Before I get started, did you catch yesterday’s session (12/16/23) of the AP & New Principals Academy (WEEK190) with my guest, Dr. Marques Stewart? We had a powerful conversation on the topic,
Navigating Difficult Conversations in the Workplace. If you missed it, see it here:


When the great educator, Rita Pearson uttered the words, “Every child deserves a champion,” I wonder if she even imagined that her words would become immortalized worldwide. It’s a powerful quote and I continue to use it regularly. In fact, the entire quote reads:


“Every child deserves a champion—an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”


As many who will read this essay know, I am fully locked in on the role of the assistant principal and the new principal (1st – 5th year). For this essay, I will focus on the AP. I believe with every fiber of my being that the assistant principal needs a champion…a PRINCIPAL “who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be!”


The assistant principalship is so critical to a school that I have argued for years that, “The assistant principalship is the most misunderstood and underutilized position in all of education.” In other words, the days of the assistant principal being reduced to a full time disciplinarian for example must end…and this is particularly so in urban environments where I spent my entire twenty-one year career. The problem is when there is a district-wide culture that exists and it is assumed…an unwritten given that the role of the assistant principal is to react and respond to discipline…undesirable behaviors all day, week, month, year and throughout their tenure. In a situation like this, the assistant principal deserves a champion! They need someone who concludes that the assistant principalship is NOT a disciplinary role but instead the 2nd in command to the principalship. The assistant principal therefore needs a principal who not only understands that the assistant principal must be nurtured into becoming a multi-faceted amazing leader, but requires a principal who is a staunch advocate for the assistant principal becoming the multi-faceted amazing leader that he/she was meant to be. The assistant principal deserves a champion! And that champion must be the principal. That’s right, I said it. The principal MUST BE a champion for his / her assistant principal.


Imagine an assistant principal who supervises “X” number of teachers but seldom if ever has the time to coach them, or to supervise them, or to observe them, or to assess them…and these same teachers are in classrooms with children every day and are not in collegial relationships with their evaluators of record. Children suffer immeasurably in these situations. Children are not the only ones who suffer though. Society suffers immeasurably as well because the children who are in classrooms with teachers who lack coaching toward becoming amazing will become the adults of the world very shortly. Just imagine how the trajectory of a child is impacted when his / her teacher performs at extraordinary levels consistently due to sustained coaching. The assistant principal deserves a champion...and that champion is the principal


Imagine an assistant principal who’s a full time disciplinarian coupled with daily cafeteria duty (which can comprise two to four instructional periods per day I might add) and never has or had exposure to a school budget. The assistant principal never learned how money is allocated relative to accounts, never learned how to balance a budget, never learned the process of spending money, never learned anything about school finance beyond the school finance graduate school course, but three years later, is appointed principal of a school with a multi-million dollar budget. A recipe for disaster! This assistant principal deserves a champion…and that champion is the principal.


I could go on and on…but I won’t. You get the picture. The assistant principal deserves a champion…and that champion is the principal. It matters!


For more discussion on the role of the assistant principal (and the new principal), visit my AP & New Principals Academy YouTube channel, subscribe, and see them all here:

Then join us LIVE every Saturday morning at 10:55 ET on YouTube LIVE @ AP & New Principals Academy.


  1. Revathi BalakrishnanDecember 17, 2023 at 9:37 AM

    So true. My principal was that champion to the extent that discipline did not take all my time. I walked away from the AP job because the system did me in. What every school is a full time peace keeping force of one so that instructional leaders like me can attend to what we are really good at...teaching teachers and encouraging students. I even set up service learning in the school because students learn to take ownership in a school that they give back to. Good luck to all the APs out there. Also, walk away if you feel like this is not your cup of tea. I did.

  2. Thank you for this. My former principal was my champion so much so she advocated for me to be her successor when she retired. The district had other ideas and chose someone else to become Principal. This has left me devastated. The new principal has less administrative experience than me. I was told I am ready for a principalship by the Assistant Superintendent but obviously not at my current school. Now I am looking for another school because it is hard for me to be there. Any advice as I navigate this journey.

    1. I was in the exact same situation. Mine was an example of cronyism. “It’s not what you know, but who…”

  3. I so agree with everything you say here, how does it happen when there is no champion for the Principal either? When there are classes to fill and so many adults to appease. As an assistant Principal, I have not received any coaching because we have a very stark and troubling human resource problem.

  4. I am a strong individual and will learn what needs to be done as a 1st year AP. I have followed Principal Kafele for several years now. I can honestly say the only things I’ve learned from my principal is what not to do as a principal. I will say I’m the campion for my teachers, tend to their needs, and the principal hates that they come to me now instead of her. I will say I’m lacking on the instructional coaching side because of various other duties. I hope to get into the rooms more after the break. I have learned about financial aspects from the secretary.

  5. Totally agree! I’ve worked under two principals who were clear on their commitment to teach me all aspects of being a principal.

  6. I wish I had this mystic being of a principal who was my champion.

  7. Powerful and well said, Principal Kafele! Thank you for always advocating for us (APs) and encouraging our principals to do the same! Can a principal advocate for their AP if they have limited experience in administration themselves?

  8. I served as an AP in 3 schools. I was never the sole disciplinarian. There eere always deans to do the job. One of the schools I worked in wanted me to be his successor when he retired. In addition the staff, parents and students wanted me to take his place. The assistant superintendent wanted her friend to take the position. The questions on the oral interview were written for her. In the end, I was assigned to a better position.


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