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It’s been a theory of mine that the assistant principal has the toughest job in education.

I got that idea a long time ago, when I was a student teacher at a middle school.

It seemed the assistant principal’s job goes something like this:

She’s on duty well before the school day starts with a walkie-talkie on her belt, making sure the buses arrive on time and that the drop-off lane is running smoothly. Then, once the bell rings, she sits in a tiny office, mostly dealing with discipline: playground scuffles, lunchroom infractions and the occasional serious problem, like a knife in the backpack. Bullying. Drugs. A mixture of traffic cop and county judge: calling the parents here, a three-day suspension there, letting others off with a stern warning.

At 3:30 p.m., it’s back outside for the afternoon rush. Once the parking lot clears out, off to the JV soccer game, coordinating and keeping the peace. Then into the night with a meeting of the PTA or the regional basketball tournament.

That’s my theory, anyway. But I may have it all wrong.

The Toughest Job In Education? Maybe Not

Illustration credit: LA Johnson/NPR