Elementary School Organization and Administration

By Henry J. Otto | Go to book overview

16
The Professional Elementary-School Principal

THE WORD principal has been used for a long time. The elementary-school principalship, however, is a recently developed position in the administration of public education. Morrison, after an analysis of manuscripts depicting the historical development of the elementary-school principalship in various eastern cities, pointed out that the first use of the word principal is difficult to trace.1 The term appeared in the Common School Report of Cincinnati as early as 1838. Annual reports for the city of Albany, New York, indicate that the title of principal has been used since the organization of the school system in 1844. The ordinance of the Common Council of Buffalo, New York, for the year 1863 outlines in some detail the duties of the elementary-school principal.

Since the exact title used is less significant in ascertaining the status of the principal than the duties of the position, it may be of interest to examine the latter. Historical records indicate clearly that the early principals were merely head teachers who had been assigned certain clerical and administrative tasks in addition to their teaching duties. As interest in public education developed and the increasing number of children attending made larger school buildings essential, and as the monitorial and departmental schools were replaced by graded schools, the administrative and clerical duties increased in number and importance. The principal was also called on to perform certain functions which might legitimately be classed as supervisory in character.

The following excerpt quoted by Morrison from the Report of the School Committee of the Common Council of Buffalo, dated 1863, illustrates this point:2

It is a two-story building of plain but imposing design in the form of an L with slate roof and substantial outbuildings. It has five rooms on each floor, and each room is designed to accommodate about seventy pupils, to be under the care of a single teacher. The principal's room on each floor will occupy that
____________________
1
J. C. Morrison, "The Principalship Develops Supervisory Status", Tenth Yearbook ( Washington, Department of Elementary School Principals of the N.E.A., 1931), Ch. I.
2
Ibid., p. 157.

-652-

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Elementary School Organization and Administration
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Editor's Introduction v
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • 1 - Elementary Education in Transition 1
  • Selected Bibliography 36
  • 2 - The Role of the Elementary School 37
  • Selected Bibliography 77
  • 3 - Curriculum Issues 78
  • Selected Bibliography 124
  • 4 - General Features Of Elementary-School Organization 127
  • Selected Bibliography 164
  • 5 - Grouping Children For Wholesome Development 165
  • Selected Bibliography 220
  • 6 - Children's Progress Through the School 221
  • Selected Bibliography 286
  • 7 - Organization for Instruction 287
  • Selected Bibliography 319
  • 8 - Organization for Supervision 320
  • Selected Bibliography 351
  • 9 - Pupil Personnel Services 353
  • Selected Bibliography 403
  • 10 - Library Service 404
  • Selected Bibliography 437
  • 11 - Protection and Promotion Of Children's Health 438
  • Selected Bibliography 483
  • 12 - Educational Provisions For Exceptional Children 485
  • Selected Bibliography 537
  • 13 - The School in Its Community At Mid-Century 539
  • Selected Bibliography 581
  • 14 - Provisions for Administering The School 583
  • Clearing-House for Details Of School Operation 610
  • 15 - School-Plant Trends 612
  • Selected Bibliography 650
  • 16 - The Professional Elementary-School Principal 652
  • Selected Bibliography 691
  • Appendix 693
  • Index 715
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