The New Leader

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Assignment – The New Leader

Robbins & Alvy (2014) discussed the role in three terms: Leader as Learner, Leader as
Manager and Leader as Shaper of school/work Culture. It is important that you understand and
are able to identify each of these, both independently and interdependently.


1. Read the background section of The New Principal found on page 232 of Gorton &
Alston (2012).

2. Review each of the in-basket items 1- 19.

3. Write a short paper (3-5 pages) discussing whether each in-basket item reflects Dr.
Brown as: Leader as Learner, Leader as Manager, Leader as Shaper of School
Culture, or some combination of the three. Provide a rationale for each of your
answers. Support your answers with evidence from the course reading or other
scholarly sources. Be sure to cite and reference your sources in APA format. The
links below can provide you with guidance and examples on using APA format.

4. As you draft your responses, consider how these in-basket items might look within
your desired leadership role (principal).



You are Dr. Brown. You were approved by the school board on August 11 to succeed Mr.
Sanders as principal of Kennedy School. Due to a death in your family, however, you were
unable to report to Kennedy School until the weekend of August 22–23. You have arrived at the
school on Saturday morning to look at your mail and start organizing things.

Specific information about the context of this situation, including a description of the school, the
district, and the community, has not been provided in order that these details might be varied,
depending on the composition of the class or group and the objectives of the instructor.
Information of this nature may be provided by the instructor, to the extent needed and at an
appropriate time.


You will be given 90 minutes to read and take action on all the in-basket items presented
following the instructions. You are not expected merely to describe what you would do, but to do
it. For example, if you decide to write a letter, then compose the letter. If you decide to telephone
a person or see someone for a conference, then outline your objectives, as well as the main
points or questions that you would present. (Utilize relevant concepts from Part I of the text in
your responses.)

Each in-basket item requires a separate action that you should present on another sheet of
paper, adding the identification number in the upper-left-hand corner of the in-basket item.
Although the in-basket items are numbered, you may deal with them in whatever sequence you
prefer; however, you should indicate on your response sheet the priority number that you have
assigned to each item: 1 for high priority, 2 for moderate priority, and 3 for low priority.

Proceed to address the in-basket items.


August 19

Dear Dr. Brown:

I am writing you to request a meeting to establish a Parent Council for the school. I was a
member of the PTA that folded a couple of years ago because of a lack of leadership from the
principal. What we need now is a new parent group with more responsibility and more
enlightened leadership from the principal than we have received in the past. As someone with
an advanced degree, I am sure you support parent involvement in education.

I look forward to working with you.


Peggy Kim


Page 233


Telephone Message

FOR: Dr. Brown

FROM: Tom Roberts (State Journal)

TIME: 9:30 a.m., August 14

Please call back. The newspaper would like to do a feature on you as the new principal, and I
need to set up a time for interviewing you and some of the teachers and students.


Dr. Brown,

I hope that things are going to be better this year on the first day of school than they were last
year. Last year I had to begin classes without enough textbooks, and some important supplies,
like chalk, didn’t arrive until Friday of the first week. I know you are new and you have a lot on
your mind, but teachers think it is important that classes run smoothly on the first day of school.
With your help, I hope we can get off to a better beginning.

Pattie Quinn


Dear Dr. Brown:

First of all, welcome to Kennedy School. From all I have heard, you should bring some much
needed leadership to the school.

The reason I am writing you (I tried to get in to see you but your secretary said you weren’t
seeing anyone for a while) is that I would like you to emphasize at the first meeting with the
teachers the importance of consistently enforcing the discipline rules, especially the rules on
students being on time to class with appropriate materials to work with (you know, like pencils
and paper—that kind of stuff) and the gum-chewing rule. The last two years things have been
deteriorating, and last spring was a mess—too much teacher inconsistency. I don’t like to
complain about my colleagues, but something has got to be done before the kids take over the
school. What this school needs is a real crackdown. I have heard that you’re the type that is
prepared to “bite the bullet,” and in my judgment that time has definitely arrived.


Bill Stone

Page 234


August 17

Dear Dr. Brown:

The purpose of this letter is to request your approval to conduct a study on the impact of new
leadership at the school site level. The study would employ ethnographic methods—essentially,
shadowing and interviews—of your first six months on the job. I am trying to ascertain the kind
of impact a new principal can have on a school. Having a doctorate yourself, you value
research, I am sure, and can appreciate the need for someone like myself—a doctoral
student—to complete my dissertation.

Thank you in advance for your interest and cooperation. I look forward to hearing from you.


Bob Turtle

Doctoral Student


July 17


TO: Principals

FROM: Assistant Superintendent

All principals should remind teachers at the first faculty meeting before school begins this year
that all teachers will be evaluated, using the new Teacher Accountability Evaluation form that
the school board approved last year. Also, principals should emphasize at this first meeting that
teachers need to be more careful in using their sick leave days, as there were apparent abuses
last year.


Dear Dr. Brown:

I would like to have a confidential conference with you to discuss an urgent matter in regard to
another staff member. I have been reluctant to say anything until now, but I feel this is
something you would want to know. I must, however, have your written commitment that you will
keep all of this strictly confidential, including the fact that I would be telling you this. I really don’t
want to be involved or implicated in any way.

Hazel Smith


August 20

Dear Dr. Brown:

You don’t know me, but I have been a substitute teacher in this school from time to time for the
last several years. I don’t like to complain because I am really not that kind of person, and,
besides, I really like the school. But I feel there are a few things that you should know about,
and maybe some improvements will result. They didn’t with Mr. Sanders, but I have heard that
you are a real “take-charge” person, and certainly there are some things about this school that
need to be improved. I don’t think this is the time and place to go into all of the various
problems, but there is one thing that I would hope could be changed immediately, and that is the
lack of lesson plans that substitute teachers encounter when they come to school. Rarely have I
found (and I am not alone in this regard) an up-to-date lesson plan from a teacher who is absent
for that day. And frequently I can’t find any lesson plan at all. A substitute teacher’s job is tough
enough, but without a decent lesson plan, it is terrible.

Page 235

As a parent with children in this district, I certainly have to wonder about the quality of planning
by teachers, and since Mr. Sanders didn’t take any action, one also wonders whether
administrators really care or are willing to take a tough stand with teachers. I hope that with new
leadership at the school something can be done about this deplorable situation.


(Mrs.) Ruth White


Dear Dr. Brown:

We may have to shut off the water for a short time during the first week of school to repair the
main boiler. I know this is a bad time to be shutting off the water, and we hope it won’t be
necessary. Sam and I are trying to get the thing fixed ourselves, but we have to call upstate to
see if we can get it done. They can’t get here until the week after the Labor Day weekend and
even that is uncertain. I am trying to get them to come at night. I’ll get back to you if anything


Head Custodian


Dear Dr. Brown:

I hope this year is going to be different. At least with a new principal there is hope. I live near the
school, and for several years now, I have had trouble with students vandalizing my flowers. I
have complained to the principal before, but Mr. Sanders only said he “would look into it,” but
nothing was ever done. I hope this year SOMETHING will be done. Maybe you could say
something to the students at the first assembly program or maybe over the PA system. I know
something has got to be done this year, or I am going to the school board. It’s not right. I am a
taxpayer who pays for these schools, and I don’t even have any kids. I want something done!

Alice Snap


August 1


TO: All Principals

FROM: The Superintendent

Please clear your calendars for Monday afternoon of the second week of school for a meeting in
my conference room to discuss how we can improve student achievement test scores for each
of your schools. Bring your ideas!

Page 236


July 20

Dear Mr. Sanders:

I am president of the Council on Children’s Problems, and we would like to present an assembly
program to your students this fall on child abuse. As you know, child abuse is a very pervasive
problem, and all of us must do everything that we can to prevent this kind of problem from
happening to any child, regardless of age and regardless of who the abuser is. Our assembly
program is very stimulating with many activities and experiences available.

I look forward to hearing from you as to when it would be possible to present our program.


Ted Allen, President

Council on Children’s Problems


Dr. Brown:

You might want to give some thought to what you are going to do with the teachers during the
preschool in-service day. Mr. Sanders sort of “played it by ear,” but maybe you have something
specific in mind. I know the faculty will be interested in hearing your views at the first meeting.
(Also, do you want to send any message to parents?)

Peg Albright

[principal’s secretary]


Mr. Sanders:

I will need to leave school a little early each Monday this fall (10 minutes after dismissal) to get
to my university class. I know you will understand since you are working on your advanced
degree too. Plus, I always stay late on other nights anyway, and other teachers have left early in
the past.

Mary Eager



August 17

Dear Dr. Brown:

We tried to get an appointment to see you, but your secretary said you were going to be too
busy to see people until you got your feet on the ground.

Anyway, we would like to use this letter to formally recommend that you eliminate hall passes for
this coming school year. Hall passes are demeaning to students and reflect a lack of trust on the
part of the faculty and administration toward students.

Page 237

We recognize that there are a few students who can’t be trusted, and they probably do need hall
passes. But why should the rest of us be penalized for the few?

We have been told that you graduated with a doctor’s degree from one of the leading
universities. We would hope that you would bring a more enlightened view of students to this
school. Let’s all start out fresh this year by trusting one another. Are you willing to take the first
step? We have!


Jack Staker

Camilla Black

Bill Elliot

Student Council Representatives


Dr. Brown:

I hope that you can do something this coming year about the litter in the hallways and in the
cafeteria during lunch. Maybe you could say something to the teachers during your first meeting
with them. The last few years, things have really gotten out of hand. We need to crack down and
take responsibility for ourselves.

Sam Clean



July 15

Dear Mr. Sanders:

Jim and Alice won’t be in school for the opening day because our family will not be returning to
town from our cottage until September 5. I am sure you will understand.


(Mrs.) Patricia Rosehips


August 18

Dear Dr. Brown:

I am writing this letter to request permission for my children to be absent from school next March
15 to April 15 in order to be with me while I am attending an international law conference in
Durban, South Africa.

I am sure you recognize the cultural and educational benefits of such a trip. In addition, since I
am a single parent and there is no one with whom I could leave my children, there is a practical
aspect of my request. Furthermore, the trip will provide a nice change of pace for them, since
they tend to get easily bored around that time of the year.


Thomas Steele

Attorney at Law

Page 238


August 12


TO: Dr. Brown

FROM: Tim Parker, Assistant Principal

Just a short note to congratulate you on being chosen as new principal of our school. As you
can probably imagine, I would have been happier if the school board had chosen me, but I
guess those are the breaks. After twelve years as assistant principal, they must figure that’s all
I’m good for. Anyway, good luck.


Gorton, R. (2022). School Leadership and Administration: Important Concepts, Case
Studies, and Simulations (11th ed.). McGraw-Hill Higher Education (US).

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