It seems that every spring there is a frantic search for principals for our academies and larger elementary schools. A seasoned veteran of one of our larger boarding schools has decided it’s time to retire. He gives plenty of advance notice and by February the board has located and employed an experienced administrator at another Adventist school. That means the new principal’s previous school is looking for an administrator. They no doubt will take a principal from a smaller Adventist school.

Now, the smaller school is left late in the spring frantically searching for a new principal. Since it is small and not well-funded, it is not highly attractive to experienced administrators. Further, summer is approaching and the Adventist tradition is that after May 1 we should not be extending calls to people in other conferences. Inevitably, this Academy must choose an inexperienced person to be its leader. Sometimes such schools are left with choices where no one is well qualified for the position, but the school must have a principal.

What is the solution to this problem? If it happens with regularity why haven’t we found an answer? Why is there such a lack of high quality leaders within the Adventist school system? These questions have plagued denominational leaders for many years.

Several years ago I proposed a two-part plan to address this situation. First church leaders need to search out high-quality individuals within the denominational school system who are successful at their current place of service and who give indication of potential leadership ability. They should then be encouraged to take advanced education in the formal aspects of school administration. Several Adventist universities in North America offer such a course of study.

Advanced education is necessary but not sufficient to meet the needs of our schools. Educational leaders need to find ways for potential leaders to have experience in the basics of schiik administration. I suggested at one time that we have an internship program where potential future principals could be placed as vice principals in our larger academies and elementary schools to work with a successful administrator. Everybody told me it was a good idea but nobody wanted to implement such a plan.

From my perspective, if we ever want to solve the problem of sparsity of leaders in our educational system we must find the necessary resources to get them enrolled in advanced programs in educational administration and at the same time find a means by which they can have some level of experience working with a highly successful principal.