Qualities Found in a Great Assistant Principal

If you are fortunate enough to have an assistant principal on your campus, you know all too well how important their role is on the campus.  You might take this person for granted until they miss a day or even a week of school.  That's the moment when it is all too clear how much you depend on them and how much they do to help the overall management of the campus.

If you are a principal and searching for your next assistant principal, let's talk about what qualities to look for in your next administrator.

In my observations, assistant principals typically have duties such as discipline, all things student-related and overall campus or facilities management.  The principal often handles instruction, public relations, and all things staff-related.  Before you begin to look for your next assistant principal, brainstorm the duties and responsibilities given to this administrator.

Since this administrator will be your right hand, I recommend finding someone you are compatible working beside.

Here is a list of qualities in a GREAT assistant principal.


Assistant principals will handle the majority of student discipline.  This involves communicating with teachers and parents.  Parents and teachers will expect students to be treated in a fair and consistent manner.  Look for candidates who can uphold the discipline policies without showing favoritism and/or fear of upsetting difficult parents or difficult teachers.  Dealing with tough situations involves courage.  Assistant principals must be willing to take risks and remain steadfast when challenged.  

Interview Question for AP Applicant: 

1.  How do you plan on building a positive relationship with students, teachers, and parents?  
2. Provide an example of a time when you handled a disciplinary issue that involved either a difficult teacher or a difficult parent.
3.  How will you ensure fair decisions are made?


It is so important that we all set the tone to be constant learners in our school.  We all have room to grow and learn.  A great assistant principal will actively seek ways to improve his/her position.  This can be accomplished through off-site professional development, book studies, and peer mentoring.  Since we are in the business to educate, it is critical that our actions reflect the need for all adults to be lead-learners and always willing to grow and learn.  Great Assistant Principals are curious and opportunistic. 

Interview Questions for AP Applicant: 

1.  Share examples of recent staff development you have either attended or conducted.  
2. Share a professional goal you wish to have completed within the next three years.


I recently attended a two-day workshop and this quote was stated both days.
 Students first. Students second.  Students third.
School leaders must be passionate about teaching and learning.  We must show a genuine commitment to children.  If it is right for kids, it is the right thing to do.  Great assistant principals are passionate about making a difference in the lives of students.  This often involves reaching tough students, motivating the unmotivated, and building authentic relationships with the disconnected.  Great Assistant Principals never give up.

Interview Questions for AP Applicant:

1.  In what ways will you inspire and motivate students?


Since your assistant principal will have authority to make decisions, effective decision-making skills seem fitting.  My assistants have always had authority to make decisions.  If he/she was unsure of the right call to make and the question did not fall within his/her responsibilities, he/she would say "let me find out and get back with you."  As a principal, I have always backed my assistant principal's decision regardless if I agreed with their decision.  Why?  Because it is very important that we show a supportive stance in front of our staff.  If we begin to set the tone of undermining, your assistant will not be treated as an effective administrator.  That is definitely not the tone we should ever set in front of parents, students, or teachers.  Handle all disagreements in the office.  Great assistant principals can think critically and problem solve.  All school leaders are expected to handle problems as they arise throughout the day.  While assistant principals can't be expected to resolve all of these, they can be expected to be involved in finding solutions to the problems.  

Interview Questions for AP Applicant:

1.  Describe a recent problem you encountered and how you went about creating a solution.
2.  Tell me about a situation in which you found a creative way to overcome an obstacle.
3.  Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.


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Understanding the RtI Principles

You might be thinking why is it that I'm just now talking about RtI to my school.  Well, I have accepted a principal position this school year in a new district.  It has taken me a few weeks to lay some foundation and understand their current process of Response to Intervention.  I absorbed all the facts and quickly began the journey to organize and simplify the process for the teachers.
Fast forward to the first week of November and here we are...rocking and rolling.

My presentation: Response to Intervention: Understanding the RtI Principles covers the basic information of the multi-tier system.  You can download my presentation here from my google drive.

I also created a guidebook for the teachers as a quick reference to all the information that was in the powerpoint.


The approach to RtI is preventative and intended to close learning gaps for all students.  It is also about every student making progress.  RtI focuses on the use of evidence or data to make decisions about students' response to instruction and the effectiveness of interventions in order to prevent significant learning gaps.  The keyword is preventive.  

I created a sample RtI folder for every teacher and shared a flowchart.  The flowchart was created by another principal and good friend of mine.  The forms for RtI are a mixture of materials from Mentoring Minds and our region shared services co-op.  I am unable to share these forms since they are not created by me.  I'm sure you can understand my reasons for not sharing copyrighted materials.  I'm always willing to share or link materials self-created though.


Providing quality classroom instruction can make a big difference for struggling readers.  The heart of RtI is found in core instruction.  We must give students the best opportunities to succeed at school. This begins with providing high-quality core instruction in the classroom.  We must be CORE STRONG.  The core instruction is critical to the prevention process.  

You can download the Flow Chart here.  The flowchart coordinates with the RtI forms we use in Google.


We meet every Wednesday for PLC.  We will use the student RtI folders to make instructional decisions, identify students who are in need of support, and provide immediate assistance.  

Professional Learning Communities - Who we are
Data Team, Data Driven Decisions- What we do
Response to Intervention - How we do it


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