School Administration is For Old People.

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This weekend I stumbled across a college class full of school administrator wannabees (I have no idea if this is spelled correctly… and I’m too lazy to Google it).Youth is Wasted on the Young.

I was struck by how young they were.

They were children.

In an advanced graduate course.

So cute.  So inquisitive.  So excited (or not) to be spending their Saturday talking about school budgets, finances, and referendums.

Not one of them looking at their watch to see if it was time for class to be over (probably because anyone under 35 doesn’t own a watch).

They were hanging on the professors every word.

And I would say a little foolish.

School administration is a tough game.  Not something children (again.. anyone under 35) should consider pursuing.

At least without careful consideration.

Don’t get me wrong, a young person can do it.  I did (okay, bad example).

But here’s the thing.  Being a school administrator is permanent.

Like death.  Or a neck tattoo.  Or marker (this one made me laugh).

Once you become a principal or superintendent there is no going back.

The teacher’s lounge door locks behind you.

Think of it this way.

If you are 25 and become a school administrator, you are looking at close to 35 years in the same demanding, difficult, sometimes thankless middle-management profession.

I’m not saying it isn’t fun.  Or can’t be done.

I’m just saying it’s a long time.

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9 Responses to “School Administration is For Old People.”


  1. Bill
    on Apr 16th, 2012
    @ 7:43 pm

    Nice Mike! Absolutely correct . With that said I do. It think those under 35 at minimum should or is experienced enough to become an administrator! One must spend considerable time in the trenches of the classroom itself. I ll go to my grave arguing this!


  2. Dave Meister
    on Apr 16th, 2012
    @ 10:21 pm

    Mr. Principalspagesir

    I respectfully request the name of the app that you used to not only look the to future but also to the past. The picture shows you as a young man before I knew you and (quite shockingly) how you will look in a year or two. I tried a search for it in the app store with no luck.

    #istilllookyoungercuzidontshavemyheadithink


  3. Tim
    on Apr 17th, 2012
    @ 12:00 am

    Sure, now you tell me! :-)


  4. Gwen Martin
    on Apr 17th, 2012
    @ 2:25 am

    Michael Smith, when I open up my Google Reader and see your page I immediately start to smile. I know there is going to be a little gem of sanity inside. I am closing in on my retirement target and have noticed (with some alarm) that they are letting teenagers become teachers. Some of the boys have barely started shaving. Mind you, they are full of eagerness and energy. The later which is by far the most necessary asset one can possess as a new teacher. As I gaze at them, there is a distant stirring of memory – a young woman keen to work with small children in a low income area – ready to face the hurdles and invent new solutions. Now, I pretty much am hoping that the hurdles have a gate.

    I do believe that no one should be a principal until they have taught for many years. If they are going to be an elementary principal, I think they should have to teach in more than one grade level. One has much more sympathy for the kindergarten teacher after giving it a go. Of course, a kindergarten teacher might faint at the sight of tall fifth graders.

    Don’t know when you started in the game, but I was 21 when I started. At 62 that seems like a different person moving in a different world. She was really. Thankfully, I can say with the help of some great teachers and a few great principals I am a much better educator now. Took a long time – and I am still learning new things to help me over the hurdles.

    Keep writing those gems. My days often need them. Especially on Thursdays – could you get right on that, please?


  5. Karen Marcus
    on Apr 17th, 2012
    @ 8:29 am

    I so agree. I taught 28 years (yes, almost to retirement) before I came to be a principal. Even then I thought I might be too young.


  6. Patrick
    on Apr 17th, 2012
    @ 8:35 am

    LOVE IT! I have to agree, there are 30 long, tough years ahead of me. For now, I am enjoying it. If not, I can always take up blog writing later :)

    …. this coming from a 26 year old school administrator (going on two and a half years in admin.)


  7. Papa Bear
    on Apr 17th, 2012
    @ 9:16 pm

    I have been an assistant principal for 6 years at a middle school, an assistant principal for one year at a 3,500 student high school and now am principal at a 2,600 student high school. I just turned 35 this school year and have loved every minute about being a school administrator. I taught for 5 years too and earned the teacher of the year award from my school.

    I learn new things everyday and gain new experiences. It is not an easy job, but so rewarding. It will be interesting to see where I am in 20 years down the road. There are a few of us “younger” administrators out there blazing our trails in administration. :)

    Thanks for sharing your blog!


  8. Monica
    on Apr 22nd, 2012
    @ 11:10 pm

    Spooky, it’s like you read my mind.
    I am in the process of deciding, administrator or not? I am a tad older than thirty-five and finished the first part of my admin credential. I was all for moving forward a few months ago, until it hit me;there is no turning back! I have worked as an admin. during summers and loved it. Currently I work with teachers and love the way they respond to me. However, I’m not sure about committing long term to the longer days, the added responsibility, and the sense of isolation that sometimes come with the job. Lots to think about.


  9. Anna Darby
    on Apr 24th, 2012
    @ 6:25 pm

    Hi, Mr. Smith.
    This is an interesting post. I’m not sure if this is sarcastic (like many of your other posts) or if it is serious. I don’t think there is a certain age one should become a school administer. Sure, older people have more experience, but if a younger person feels as if they are up to the challenge, I don’t see why this is a problem.

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