New Principal Support

A Treasure Trove of Images, Podcasts, and Articles to Support the New Principal!


Use the links below to listen to Mark Wilson’s “New Principal” Podcasts.

You’re a new principal.  Now what?  Episode one, season one of The New Principal Show! answers that and more.  Dr. Mark Wilson (  and @MarkWilsonGA) is your host and guide to this twelve-episode show to help new principals get off to a successful beginning.

In this episode, Mark is joined by Dr. Torian White, the Principal of Southeast Bulloch Middle School in Statesboro, GA and by Debra Murdock, the 2014 Georgia High School Principal of the Year (GASSP) and Leadership Director for Cherokee County Schools.

We discuss four big things that new principals need to know in order to get off to a good start:

1)  Be Yourself; 2)  Listen; 3)  Take Notes (Don’t make too many fast changes); 4)  Learn why things are done as they’re done (before you move the wrong furniture!) 

During this episode, we talk about the steps to success in four parts:  1)  Get Involved; 2) Develop Relationships; 3) Build Bridges; and 4) Develop A Successful Climate.

Our guest stars in episode two are principals Garrick Askew, Principal of Lithia Springs High School and Amy Thornton, Principal of Callaway Elementary School. 

In this episode we also feature a visit from Paul Shaw, the Director of the Ethics Division of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.  In this segment we discuss what new principals do to build cultures of ethical leadership in their schools. 

Episode Three of The New Principal Show! covers a topic that is critical to the success of the new principal:  Communication.

Simply put, whatever ideas you have to make your school a success rely on your skills as a communicator. 

Our special guests in this episode are great communicators.

Kevin Paul Scott (@KevinPaulScott) is the co-founder of ADDO International.  Kevin Paul Scott has traveled to six continents and spoken to leaders from more than 100 countries. Kevin co-founded both ADDO Worldwide and the ADDO Institute. The ADDO Institute received the Governor’s International Award for “New Company of the Year” in the state of Georgia. The Institute works specifically in the areas of global leadership, student leadership, and thought leadership.

Jayne Ellspermann (@ellsperj) is the immediate Past-President of the NASSP (National Association of Secondary School Principals) and also holds the distinction of being the 2015 National Principal of the Year. She has been a principal for 25 years at the elementary, middle, and high school level.  During her 12 years as principal of West Port High School in Ocala, FL, Ellspermann developed a college-going culture personalized for students. Under Ellspermann’s leadership, lunchtime became “PowerHour,” a student-empowerment initiative Ellspermann launched giving students autonomy over an hour of their school day for academic enrichment, open labs, clubs, and other creative opportunities. PowerHour produced remarkable results: course failure dropped from 38 percent to 3 percent, the graduation rate improved from 68 percent to 97 percent, and participation in activities increased seven-fold to nearly 70 percent.

Octavius Mulligan (@Octavius77) Octavius is the principal of Tesnatee Gap Elementary School in White County, GA.  Dr. Mulligan previously served as assistant principal at Cornelia Elementary, South Habersham Middle and Habersham Central High School. He left Central in 2013 after seven years to become the Assistant Principal at White County High School. He held that job for a year and a half before being named the director of the White County Ninth Grade Academy.

This Episode:   Instructional Leadership
How effective are you in helping others around you grow?   We’ll examine what it means to be effective in your observations, meaningful in your feedback, and impactful in designing continuing learning with your teachers. 

Guest Stars:

Cindy Saxon, Associate Superintendent in the Division of Teacher and Leader Support and Development for the Georgia Department of Education joins us to talk about  the growth process that effective school leaders promote among their teachers.  

Casey Bethel served our state as the 2017 Georgia Teacher of the Year.  He has recently begun work at CEISMC (Georgia Tech’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Math, and Computing).  

Don’t do it alone!  

The position of principal can be lonely… but it doesn’t have to be, and it shouldn’t be!  Building networks with other colleagues can help inform your practice, keep you going when things are tough, and give you connections that help you better serve your school. 

Our guest hosts for episode five are quick to testify about the power of the principal making connections.  Stephanie Johnson is the Deputy Superintendent of the Georgia Department of Education and was the 2017 Georgia High School Principal of the Year (GASSP) and a finalist for National Principal of the Year (NASSP) for the work she led at Maynard H. Jackson High School in Atlanta (Atlanta Public Schools).

Jim Finch is the Principal of Mary Persons High School in Monroe County (Forsyth) and is the Vice-President of the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals (GASSP).

Priorities, Time, Getting Things Done, Balance.

Can you get it all done?  How do you know what to do?  How do we keep our jobs and not lose our selves?  

Episode Six of TNPS dives into those topics with Principals Jamey Moore and Melvin Hugans.  Jamey is in his fourth year at North Hall HS in Hall County; Melvin is a second-year principal at Harper Elementary School in the Thomasville City School System. 

Whether you’re new or veteran, you’ll enjoy this engaging conversation about leadership, time, and priorities.  

How do you build the right culture for your school?  Is it important to have a school where students and teachers have a joy for learning?  What does ‘believing’ have to do with school leadership?  When do you reflect?  

Our guest stars considered those and more questions in this very exciting episode of TNPS.  

Dr. Stephen Peters is an internationally-known speaker who, after thirteen years of presentations and conferences went back to school (he had previously been a teacher and a principal).  In his return, he was asked by the BBC to be a part of a project called “The American High School” in which he and his school were filmed for an entire year.  The series has been broadcast by National Geographic and can be seen at their site and on demand. Click here to watch:

Also, you can learn more about Dr. Peters’ work at his site, found here:

Dr. Laurie Barron is the Superintendent of Schools in Evergreen, MT, and was named the 2013 National Middle School Principal of the Year while at Smokey Road MS in Coweta County, GA.  She is a published author, having recently released the book, Middle School: A Place to Belong and Become.  Laurie is a sought-after national speaker, a recognized thought leader in educational leadership, and deeply engaged with national leadership organizations.

Trust and The Principal.

Q:   WHY do we always advise new principals to proceed gradually in bringing about change?

A:   Trust.

As Stephen Covey wrote, “change happens at the speed of trust.”  In this episode of The New Principal Show! we explore trust and the principal through these questions:

  • Trust and the Principal:  
  •  Internal:  Building Trust among your Faculty and Staff
  • External:  Earning Trust of Parents, Community, and Central Office
  • Personal:  Trusting Yourself to Lead:  (Confidence v. Fear;  The difference between confidence and arrogance)
  • What’d we learn?  Wrap up from each of us

Read more about Trust and The Principal here:  Trust and the Principal

Support Your New Teachers

As we begin the new school year, one of the most important priorities for us as Ps and APs should be the successful introduction of new Ts to our building and especially new teachers to the profession.

You know the data points… that within five years, half of new teachers have left the profession.  You also know we are hiring from a deficit rather than from a surplus.  Once it was true that effective hiring was one of if not the most important actions a P could take.

NOW, you would do well to consider developing and retaining your Ts as a priority.  We can’t continue to work with new Ts as we did in the past.  We need a fresh new approach to support, nurture, and encourage our new Ts.

Let’s take a look at several scenarios for you as a P in regard to your new teachers and consider which of those set your Ts up for success and which of them set them up to have a more difficult year.


In this episode, we look at ten different decisions that you as a P make regarding new teachers, and consider what those decisions do to encourage or discourage Ts as they begin their career.

Here we go!

  1.  Assignment of Classes/Courses:
  2.  Mentor Assignment
  3. Working with Colleagues
  4. Working with Parents
  5. Opportunity to Vent
  6. Feedback for Improvement
  7. Encouragement
  8. Duty Assignments
  9. First-Year Support? 
  10. Appropriate Onboard and Orientation

Reading Corner:

Reading for New Principals.

Trust and The New Principal.

Everyone who begins a new tenure at a school as the Principal hears the same advice: (including from Principal Matters!)  don’t start making changes right away, and maybe not any big changes in your first year at all.

You’ve heard that.  It most usually holds true.  The ‘why’ of it, however, isn’t always discussed.

It’s pretty simple.  People reserve their full effort until they trust you as the leader. 

An initiative you lead after you’ve gained the trust of your team has very different outcomes than one you initiate before they’re ready to join you.  Of course, there are always leaders who fail to heed this advice and plunge in anyway.  Some of them aren’t given a choice by their supervisors and are called upon to do immediate changes.

If you begin to make too many changes before you’ve earned trust, now you run the risk that not only do they not trust you, but they are not sure they can trust your judgment.  (Others often view the leader’s judgment along with the results; if you push something before you gain trust and it flops, then your judgment falls into question and you’re further set back in your journey to gain their trust.)

OK, here’s how it plays out in practice.  Sometimes it is really necessary to change some things sooner than you’d like.  If your teachers are yelling or disrespecting students, that’s nothing you can wait on.  If you have staff who leave their classes unattended, don’t come to work on time (or at all!) you can’t wait on that either.  If there are practices that a reasonable person would consider to be unsafe, you have to get going on those as well.

Success falls upon the prudent more than the overly-cautious or the impulsive.  Do what must be done, and then gain the necessary trust to do what should be done.

Your staff probably can be divided up into those who are quick to trust, those who may never fully trust, and the overwhelmingly largest group (68%… you know the bell curve) who are waiting to see which of the first two groups are correct!  For those, trust is a function of time, a matter of developing relationships, and observably consistent behavior on your part (i.e.- what you do and what you say match up)

Trust will come (if you are trust-worthy) over time, and then moving the organization forward becomes a much different (and more effective) task.

Funny thing about earning trust… takes much longer to earn than to lose.  Being a person who can be trusted, a leader who seeks the best for her people, a team member who sets aside his personal agenda for the better of the school.. that’s how you can keep trust once you’ve gained it.