Positioning Principals for Success in the Lutheran School, Jim Rademan
Of all the positions of service within a congregation, perhaps none has evolved more over the course of the past two generations than that of principal. Decades ago, the principal provided spiritual and professional leadership for the other teachers. He dealt with challenging situations. But mostly, he was in the classroom, just like all the other teachers.
Today, the position of principal comes with countless administrative responsibilities.
- state requirements (such as safety) that must be met and reporting that must be filed to operate any school, public or private
- the planning for ongoing education and professional development of the faculty
- the assessment and adoption of curricula
- meeting the academic standards necessary for accreditation
- the production of systems and policies
- the stewardship of the school budget, which is many congregations is perpetually tight
- the management of the expectations of parents, which are often more demanding than ever
On top of these administrative responsibilities, add the fact that many congregations are embracing a new philosophy – to use Lutheran elementary schools to reach into the community, sharing the gospel with unchurched children, and integrating their parents into the church. That creates more responsibilities for the principal: to function as an evangelist and to equip his faculty to do the same.
These increased demands without dedicated time to address them and the lack of exposure to training for the necessary skills are part of the reason that it can be challenging to retain our current principals and recruit young men to serve in the Lutheran school principal role.
In this session, we will attempt to clarify the role of the Lutheran elementary school principal in the 21st century. How does the principal and school serve the wider mission of the church? What is realistic? What resources are needed to position the principal for success in your congregation? Finally, how can we better encourage men to embrace and enjoy this vital position within the congregation?
Jim Rademan is a 1982 graduate of Dr. Martin Luther College with a Master’s in curriculum and instruction from Western Michigan University. After serving three decades as a teacher and principal in WELS schools, he began serving greater WELS in the Lutheran Schools office in 2013. His work there is to provide resources, support, and training for the starting and strengthening of WELS schools. Initially he served as the director of WELS accreditation, but in recent years has focused much of his attention on partnering with Martin Luther College and other WELS educators to identify the challenges of the WELS principalship, and identify and help produce resources and training to assist current and future principals in their role. He has led the development of the new Ministerial Growth and Evaluation Process, which includes coaching, supervision, ministry development plan, and evaluation resources for
our teachers and school leaders. He also oversees an office responsible for maintaining the data on all teachers and schools in WELS and assists the district presidents in the development of teacher and principal call lists.
He and his wife Sandy are members at Peace in Hartford, Wis., and have two grown children and four young grandchildren.