Preparing to interview to be principal of a Catholic school involves not only assessing your experience and ability to fulfill the job, but also assessing your personal beliefs and how they will come into play in the role. Youll likely need to explain how your faith will impact your relationship with students and staff, along with showing why youre the best leader for the school.
First, understand the process for a Catholic principal interview so you arent surprised when you arrive. The interviews are typically done in a panel setting where youll be interviewed by several people at once. Each member of the panel might have a selection sheet that shows what theyre looking for, so dont be surprised if they refer to a paper while asking you questions or take frequent notes. The people on the panel can vary, but may consist of at least one executive staff member, a parish priest and a parent.
Before you walk into the interview, make sure youve done your homework and know the school backwards and forwards. This means that you understand the schools strengths and weaknesses and are prepared to talk about these during the interview. Studying the school can include reviewing the schools website, reading articles about the school, and talking to other people who have worked there or attended the school. Is the school strong in academics but weak in athletics? Is the curriculum up-to-date with modern technology? Does the school stay within budget? Look for ways to compliment the school, but also come with concrete ideas as to how you can help fix the schools weak points.
If youre going to lead a Catholic school, its imperative that your faith is a driving force in your life. Youll be asked how your faith will impact your plans for the school and your relationships with staff, parents and students. Youll likely be asked about your own spiritual growth and what church you attend. Find out if the school has any oaths of moral conduct that you have to take. Are you ready to take the oath? Be ready to talk about how your faith will guide how you deal with students and help develop curriculum.
Any interview for a principal position will involve tough questions about dealing with disciplinary problems, staff issues, and how your faith is involved with these situations. If there are any weak spots in your resume, be prepared to explain these, too. Youll likely be asked tough questions, such as how you would deal with a teacher who isnt following the schools code of conduct or how you would approach a student who is acting out and making trouble for his peers.
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Part 2: Unofficial Transcript
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If you are considering teaching with ACE, I highly encourage you to take that leap of faith and apply! We in ACE are cheering you on, and are always happy to support you in your discernment and application.
Several certainties come with being in ACE (you will teach somewhere in the United States, you will live with super cool people, and you will be challenged, inspired, and changed), but many aspects of your ACE experience will remain uncertain, even after you say “Yes.” I remember the exciting yet also strange feeling of telling friends and family that I would be teaching with ACE, but when they asked where I would be or what classes I would teach, until placements came out, I didn’t have an answer. Never in a million years would I have been able to anticipate the joy of living and teaching in Oklahoma City, not even when I knew that I was going to be serving with ACE after graduation. So, my advice is to embrace that uncertainty! You have no idea what immense joy and amazing people are on the other side.
This might be my favorite tip, as it proved very helpful during my own discernment and application process. Chat with as many people as you can who taught in the ACE program, including members of the ACE team. What was their favorite part of their teaching experience? What was the most difficult part? Which M.Ed courses did they find most interesting? What was it like to live in community? Then, after hearing their stories, ask if they can connect you with someone else who served with ACE. You can even ask them to connect you with a current ACE teacher (hi!) or an ACE Intern or Ambassador. The more stories you hear, the more you will be able to decide if you can see yourself as an ACE teacher.
Applying for ACE Teaching Fellows was one of the best decisions I have ever made. My experiences in ACE shaped me in ways I can only begin to understand, and my time spent with my cohort, my community members, and my students will be time that I cherish throughout my life. Putting yourself out there and applying can be daunting, so with the help of other members of the ACE 28 and 29 cohorts (most notably Ryan Smith, Meredith Nowotarski, Alex Weishan, Ian Daly, and Emily Markley), I have put together four tips for your application and discernment process.
ACE Teaching Fellows attracts people from all different backgrounds, interests, majors, and universities. You have something special to offer, even and especially if your application looks different than the person next to you. In your interview, be authentic in showing who you are and why you think you are someone young students can look up to. Just showcase what excites you most about the opportunity to serve and teach for two years!
Also, you could be asked to explain how your supervision of lay teachers would differ from supervising teachers from religious orders, if at all. Define your management skills, concerning finance, human resources and administrative controls.
If you attended Catholic schools, blend your personal experiences and professional competencies to form a response to questions why you believe youre a qualified candidate.
Another one of the private school interview tips is to study the schools performance records, which may be available from the diocese or archdiocese offices via a Freedom of Information Act request or by simply requesting records via telephone call to the diocesan office. Access the National Catholic Education Association, or NCEA, site for information about Catholic education strategy and planning.
Youll want to compose a statement about your beliefs concerning faith-based education, its role in the academic development of students, the involvement of parents and your role as the school principal. If youre Catholic, discuss the role of the Catholic Church and how Catholicism shapes your philosophy on education. You might also cover the benefits of working at a Catholic school.
Therefore, preparing for an interview for a Catholic school principal should focus on both education and the role faith plays in educating students. Use these private school interview tips to improve your likelihood of success.