Assistant Principal for the Day: A Day in the Life of an Administrator


Walat Gozeh

Assistant Principal Hillary Hienton picking up trash during lunch. She stated before she enjoys doing her part and getting to interact with students. “It helps the janitors,” said Madison Collett

The administrators of a school have a lot of jobs. These include, of course, running the school by dealing with student discipline and managing the concerns of students, staff, and parents. I asked some students what they think an admin does, and these were their responses. “Run the school,” senior Jasmine Weeden said jokingly. 

“I don’t know,” added senior Haylee Goetzinger. 

First, educational requirements are a big part in getting in the business of being a school leader. Mrs. Hillary Hienton, one of our assistant principals at Doherty High School, said that only a bachelor’s degree is required, but everyone on the DHS admin team has at least a Master’s. Another requirement is that you need to participate in a program to earn your principal license. 

The skill set an administrator needs to be successful is based around the idea of leadership. So, you could be a leader in many ways. For example, Mrs. Elaine Charney is the administrator that manages student discipline while Dr. Lauren Murphy handles AP testing and the master schedule, among other things.

Now, I am sure you are asking right now? But what does Mrs. Lana Flenniken do? As principal of the school, she is the one that oversees everything and ensures that the well-oiled machine is running smoothly. She is in charge of hiring quality staff, setting goals, and making sure all of the district’s requirements are met.  Another example includes organizing multiple people in groups and being able to lead them.

Communication is also a major part of the job. Yes, this does mean being able to collaborate with parents, staff and students, but that also means being able to compose emails and knowing how to make written material for others.  Sometimes this means hundreds of emails coming in during a single day. Navigating conflict and the resolution of said conflict is also a challenging part of this category, but is needed in a modern-day administrator’s life.

In addition to the pressure already mentioned, you must be focused at all times. A scary but real example is that an administrator could focus on how the student section at a game is behaving and not doing anything they should not do, but also keep track of surrounding areas and making sure no one breaches and does harm. 

 But what does a job with that kind of education and intensity entail? An administrator does many jobs, but that depends on who you ask. Overall, every administrator, no matter what, does the following: Safety, Security and Academics.

Safety and Security are self-explanatory. It means that if a fight or medical situation ever occurs on campus, then administrators can be called on radio to manage it.

Academics is a little more of a gray area. The student side of things is well known, but overseeing the staff is often overlooked, but it is super interesting. As an administrator you must evaluate teachers. Ms. Hienton opened the gates for me one day and let me see what goes down when she observes teachers. She explained that she likes to script the class. So, this means writing down what students do, i.e., if someone is on their phone or if the teacher gives questions to the students. She also likes to sit down with the teacher before and after the evaluation and talk with them to see how they can improve and be a better teacher overall! Every administrator is different with how they do this. 

As I previously mentioned I got to follow an administrator around and see what it was like. The admin I chose was Hillary Hienton. She had a lot on her docket when I shadowed her. She also stated that every day is different, so not everything that would occur would happen again. 

 I started my day in the Spartan Room. It was Wednesday, which means that students come in an hour later than normal. That is not the case for teachers and admins. She stated that she came in at around 6:30 and the first thing on her docket was training with the Special Education Department. This meeting felt like a teacher giving a lesson to their students and was based on what students’ accommodations are needed and where. After that meeting Hienton did a check in with the world languages teachers and answered some quick questions. She ended the period by checking in with Ms. Flenniken and Dr. Murphy. 

 When the first period hit. It was more of the same; a meeting but this time with a parent, answering more questions and emails, but in addition we did our first trip out of the office where Ms. Hienton spoke to kids about the DHS Black Student Union.

 At this point we had done a lot and the bell rang meaning CCR is next. This period was spent doing one thing: Conflict resolution among students. 

Lunch is a different story for each admin, but Ms. Hienton said she likes to roll around a trash can to help the janitorial staff, but she said that she gets to interact with the students which is the main reason she does it.

 After lunch we headed up for her first evaluation. It went very well, but I noticed that you need to be a fast typer to not miss anything, and that by contract you must be there for at least 45 minutes. This rule does change depending on the school district, however, because it is a state requirement.

 Third period was spent doing another evaluation. She also spoke to the media center folk to answer questions. She also met with Principal Flenniken to discuss the staff meeting after school, a school wide announcement for that Friday and a training day that following Monday. 

Finally, the bell rang, and the students made their way home; however, Hienton needed to finish a post evaluation and get to that after-school staff meeting. 

Though there is stress with managing so many people and the dozens of emails every day, a school administrator can be paid a pretty penny.  D11 school administrators can be paid anywhere from $80,000 to $130,000 depending on experience and expectations. So, next time you hear the rattling keys of your principal or administrator, give them a thank you, knowing their stresses they need it.