In early April, we celebrated National Assistant Principal Week. The Assistant Principals across our Baltimore Curriculum Project (BCP) network of neighborhood conversion charter schools are unsung heroes. Every day, these talented, seasoned school administrators play essential roles of support for every community served by our schools.

Their leadership ensures that our students, faculty, staff, parents,and the Principal thrive. To understand the role Assistant Principals have in supporting successful school cultures, we spoke with Victoria Jennings, Assistant Principal at Govans Elementary School for the past six years. 

Ms. Jennings has taught elementary and middle school in Baltimore City Public Schools, BCP’s partner, from 1995 until 2010, when she became the middle school academic coach at BCP’s City Springs Elementary / Middle School.  

“Typical” is a funny word to describe my days as Assistant Principal. I start each day in the traffic circle, directing traffic and greeting every child and parent. It’s one of my favorite times of the day—it’s so energizing and fun to greet everyone first thing in the morning. Mondays are back-to-back data meetings with every teaching team to discuss student progress and data. Tuesdays and most Wednesdays, I attend IEP meetings, and Thursdays and Fridays are filled with 504 or Student Support Team (SST) meetings and follow-up conversations, observations, or documented communication around supporting students, staff, and families. The end of the week also includes various operational tasks and support, such as monitoring inventory levels and tracking student checkouts as part of Direct Instruction. I end each day as I started it: handling traffic at dismissal.

The rewards of my job are unparalleled. Every day, I monitor 4th grade lunch and recess, another favorite part of my daily routine. I love spending time with students during non-instructional periods. Kids are so fascinating and entertaining. I love the opportunity to work with such wonderful staff, who are so passionate about education and celebrate our students’ important gains and accomplishments. 

Every role in a school is critical, but the Assistant Principal is essential. It’s unreasonable to expect a Principal to know and be able to do everything that is involved in running a school. There are countless moving parts, parts that move that shouldn’t move, and parts that move when they are not expected to move. A Principal really never has a moment “off.” Having a thought leader, a comrade, a person with whom responsibilities can be shared is key to successful leadership. 

I’m at a huge advantage because I have been an elementary and middle school teacher and then, an academic coach. Because of my career, I am very empathetic towards the children, families, and teachers with whom I work because I’ve lived and  breathed it. I know what it feels like to be a teacher of elementary and middle school students. I know where elementary students need to be and I know where they need to be before they leave elementary school to set them up for more success in middle school. As a former academic coach, I am at such an advantage when I have to coach teachers or have conversations with new teachers.

No Principal should ever feel alone in their role. I bring some balance to a very demanding position. I must step in at any moment in the absence of the Principal. Fortunately, Ms. Kwaw is rarely absent. She’s irreplaceable—her knowledge and experience cannot be downloaded and uploaded. She’s ensured I am trained in all areas necessary to be effective and to support her role. We work very closely to ensure we communicate about daily events and are on the same page.   

Ms. Kwaw and I worked together at my second school, Collington Square, for 11 years and have known each other for 25 years. We both became academic coaches at Collington and worked very closely together doing similar things but at different grade levels. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We’re in this together and that’s irreplaceable. As Principal, she’s the one who’s held accountable ultimately, but I know she feels supported by so many effective people at Govans.

[Note: Ms. Jennings and Ms. Kwaw have a tradition of creating Halloween costumes for school celebrations of items that go together as a heartfelt nod to their longstanding friendship and partnership.]

My best skills are my organizational and communication skills. I love color-coding systems and using spreadsheets! A Govans Kindergarten teacher gave me a plaque that reads, “Oh, this calls for a spreadsheet!” I keep track of a lot of data. Assistant Principals have a bigger picture of the whole organization and must stay organized. What consumes most of my time is receiving, processing, and distributing information.

There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t get goose bumps. Watching students learn a new skill, seeing them be so excited to tell you about a math or reading test, or making a new friend, you can’t measure these feelings. It’s so intrinsically motivating. I feel very, very fortunate.

Thank you, Ms. Jennings and all BCP Assistant Principals, for the critical, transformative role you play in the lives of our school communities!

About the Baltimore Curriculum Project

Baltimore Curriculum Project (BCP) is the largest operator of local neighborhood, public charter schools in Maryland. We create safe, supportive learning environments for children PK-8 by providing innovative, research-based educational strategies, intensive teacher training and extensive support for administration and staff. We support our local neighborhood needs by tailoring our resources and support through community partnerships.

As one of the longest-running charter operators in Maryland, our schools are regularly recognized as some of the most highly acclaimed neighborhood charter schools in the state. 

Pimlico Elementary / Middle School

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