Book Review                                      Online Exclusive


Keeping and Improving

Today’s School Leaders  

Retaining and Sustaining the Best  


by Bruce S. Cooper and Sharon Conley, Rowman & Littlefield Education, Lanham, Md., 2010, 142 pp., $60 hardcover, $22.95 softcover

Keeping and Improving Today’s School Leaders: Retaining and Sustaining the Best is a compilation of seven research studies focusing on school principals. Bruce Cooper, professor of educational leadership and policy at Fordham University Graduate School of Education in New York City, and Sharon Conley, professor of education in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, present information on how to best support school leaders.

Pressures are inherent for school leaders during financially stressed times, and district leaders should consider the importance of principals’ morale and mental health. Routines and rituals can go ignored at the peril of the leader. New skills and psychological support help to reduce the feelings of insecurity and incompetence that arise as new roles are adopted.

Other findings include professional development that is consistent yet flexible to sustain and improve principals, as is considering the principals’ own career goals. In addition, focusing on teams of leaders in buildings, rather than on one lead principal, can increase the efficiency of the group and the satisfaction of each individual.

As an assistant superintendent charged with ensuring quality leadership for our buildings, I found the book’s insights guide my work in developing, supporting and sustaining our administrative teams.

Reviewed by Linda Gray Smith, assistant superintendent of human resources, Independence School District, Independence, Mo.


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