Ashanti Foster

A Letter to My New Principal

Welcome to our school. I have been here for a few years so I wanted to be the first to officially greet you. I am excited to learn more about you and your leadership style. I can imagine that you'd like for me to be to work on time, have prepared lessons and execute them in a personalized manner for my students. I know you expect me to have my attendance done accurately daily and to respond to parent and student concerns in a timely manner. I pledge to do all of those things, so will you do a few things for me?

Visibility is important to me so please stop by my classroom and leave me some informal feedback. I want to make sure I am aligned with the mission and vision of our school. Who better to reassure me than you?

I noticed you have a university mug on your desk. I also went to the university. Connecting with us on a personal level shows your interest and investment into who we are (people), and not just what we are (teachers). I challenge you to know something personal about each person on our staff.

I really think I am doing a great job teaching my students, but I would really appreciate opportunities to visit my colleagues when they are teaching. I stay after school to plan with my department colleagues, but I would appreciate being able to do that during school hours. Please make sure there is ample time for working with my peers and providing feedback to them.

Although I am feel I am doing a great job with my students, I don't always complete paperwork on time. I know you don't want to come across as difficult and mean, but I need stability and correction. Please hold me accountable and have corrective communication when necessary. I respect you for that.

In the next few years I know my teammate would like to become an administrator and is willing to tackle extra duties for their administrative internship, but I wouldn't know that if I didn't ask. Please value our career goals and use your expertise to support our endeavors. We work hard for those who we know have our best interest.

And there is a new teacher on the first floor. I'm thinking he'd benefit from an administrator being present when he has meetings with parents to guide him in best ways to work with parents. Please let him know that you are available and want to be by his side for tough conversations, instead of sitting across the table from him.

Hopefully you have taken the time to read my letter. I will be sure to prioritize your e-mails and communication also. Please respond to my communication, even if it is a note that simply lets me know you received it and will address it soon. That way I won't feel ignored.

Ashanti Foster serves as academic dean at Oxon Hill Middle School in Ft. Washington, Md. She has provided teaching and learning experiences as a national staff developer to students and teachers of Prince George's County Public Schools and beyond for 13 years. Foster earned a bachelor's degree in teacher education from Morgan State University, a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from Bowie State University, and a post graduate certificate in National Professional Teaching Standards from George Washington University before becoming a doctoral candidate in educational leadership at Argosy University. A National Board Certified Teacher and ASCD Emerging Leader, she is also a Girl Scout troop leader, blogger, dancer, wife, and mother of six.

Comments (7)

Helen Bryant

July 31, 2014

Ms. Foster:

This article is well done, thought provoking and anticipatory for the thoughts new
Colleagues will have.

You are an outstanding educator, wife, mother, sister and DAUGHTER!!
God bless you!!

Helen Cheston Bryant

Kiah Whitfield

July 31, 2014

You are a wonderful educator and an amazing person. Your knowledge, insight, and energy inspire me. I am proud to work along side you and call you my friend.

Dr. Charles Bickenheuser

August 3, 2014

Well written but passive. What are those experiences that you can share, on an equal basis, with your new principal? What did you offer to teach your new principal? Every leader wants a strong team that is willing to share with him or her their life experiences and lessons.

Tanya Allen (Riggins)

August 5, 2014

Very well written Mrs Foster!!  You are an awesome educator and amazing person!  I am so proud to have worked alongside you in the past as I was starting on my journey as an educator!!  I know the future holds greater possibilities for you and from you!!!

Maureen Clark

August 6, 2014

Ms. Foster,

I also read your letter and understand many of your points.  I like how you look out for your fellow new teachers.  I would only add, greet your ESPs in the hallways, cafés, and staff rooms when you see them. They are also an integral part of keeping your school running smoothly on a daily basis. They deserve an acknowledgement of appreciation now and then, too.

Mark Renouf

August 11, 2014

Dear Ashanti,
Excellent pointers for a new principal or for one who has become too focused on or overwhelmed by the demands of leading his/her school.
Being involved with staff and being seen to be directly involved with students , staff and parents is extremely important and is also very effective leadership strategy. It is also important for every staff member to take the leadership actions you have described, so that all staff feel professionally and personally valued as a member of the team. Make sure you remember to include your principal. For many principals, it can be a lonely job where criticisms are common and support scarce. Regards, Mark


October 24, 2014


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