What does it mean to be “ready” for the evolving role of the principalship? What are the traits and skills that can make a good principal great? The Leadership Academy’s Mary Rice-Boothe and Aspen Institute Education & Society Program’s Gene Pinkard explored these questions and more alongside special guests Marco Iberra of the Los Angeles County Office of Education and Veronica Torres of DC Public School at a live podcast recording of The Aspen Institute podcast “Tomorrow’s Principal” at SXSW EDU 2023.

Throughout the hour, Rice-Boothe and Pinkard facilitated an in-depth conversation about what it takes to create and lead transformative schools, with expert insights from Iberra and Torres. The panelists detailed the gaps and advantages of principal preparation programs, as well as the importance staying close to the communities they serve by establishing and maintaining impactful relationships.

“It’s one thing to be named the principal and given the keys, but it is another thing to truly know the different groups that live within your school community. Every community is its own ecosystem,” said Torres.

Additionally, Iberra and Torres explored the need to remain flexible and adaptive when producing sustainable change, noting the critical importance of self-care in the pursuit of creating more equitable schools.

“A leader or a principal that is not taking care of themselves will radiate that impact onto their teams, and that causes a ripple effect onto the kids and the families. You build sustainability by taking pride in your identity and leading in who you are,” said Iberra.

The Tomorrow’s Principal podcast features conversations among leaders from the Aspen Institute Education & Society Program, The Leadership Academy, and accomplished school and school system leaders. The podcast is part of Aspen Institute’s Education & Society Program’s initiative to encourage education leaders to think critically about the role of the principal and what it means to be a school leader for racial equity.

Click to listen to the podcast here as well as other episodes featuring members of our team.