You want to be a principal? That is the question!

When I was a teacher, the thought of becoming a principal was not even on my radar. However, I had several leaders who recognized my potential. This led me to this question and many more questions that followed. After 17 years as an administrator in public education and now in the educational leadership department in a higher education institution, I wanted to share with aspiring leaders some tips and tidbits of wisdom I learned. This is my way to pay it forward to the next wave of administrators.

Where to begin. Begin where you are! Look around and assess your campus. Is there a need that you could help to improve? Take the initiative and ask how you can assist in being a part of the solution. This will enable the administration to recognize that you are a problem solver and are willing to help with the bigger picture of the campus cultural/climate. I always appreciated it when my faculty and staff offered to help without having to be asked. This will also allow you a closer look at and insight into what it takes to deal with individuals outside of your classroom.

Do Your Research. While learning and assisting on your campus, do your research on what credentials you will need for your district and/or surrounding districts to be an administrator. A great to place to start is with your current administration, preferably an assistant principal, since they have recently gone through the process. There are also state requirements from Texas Education Agency (TEA) found at Certification | Texas Education Agency

Look into Principal preparation programs that will fit you and your lifestyle. There are now face to face, hybrid and online programs at universities, regional service centers and in some districts that are available to help your pursuits. Take into serious consideration how you will manage your time with more demands. Mismanagement of time can cause undue stress and hinder your progress towards your goals (Sloan, 2018).

Get Connected. Join a district, regional and/or state organization for school leadership where you can meet and connect with others that can provide the support you will need. The Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA) is a great organization that not only provides the connections needed on the state/ regional levels to sustain and help you grow in your career, but also provides legal coverage. They provide special memberships and conferences for aspiring administrators.

So, you want to be a principal? I hope so, because we need phenomenal leaders in the next wave of administrators to set our students on fire for learning and leading into the future.


Kathryn Washington, Ed.D, is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Lamar University. She also serves as the TEPSA President-Elect for Region 6 and the TCWSE Vice President.


Sloan, K. (2018, April 11). Why Stress Management and Time Management Go Hand in Hand.

The Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA), whose hallmark is educational leaders learning with and from each other, has served Texas PK-8 school leaders since 1917. Member owned and member governed, TEPSA has more than 6000 members who direct the activities of 3 million PK-8 school children. TEPSA is an affiliate of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

© Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association

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