A [Fictional] School Principal’s Day

by Liz Boeger ~ When Kass asked me to write a post about a day in the life of a school principal, (DLSP, because educators love acronyms.)  I had to admit to myself there was no way I could accurately depict the reality of an actual school principal’s day in a few hundred words. So instead, I’ll present a snapshot through the lens of the school principal who is the main character in my cozy mystery series.

a school principal's day
photo by Abraham Garcia on Unsplash.com

But first some background.

I was an elementary school assistant principal for nine years before chucking it all to return to the classroom six years ago. While I loved many aspects of my role as an AP (see what I mean), I never sought the principal’s chair–I missed the students and teaching too much. It was the right decision for this season in my life.

Fortunately, I had already been drafting my Moccasin Cove Mystery series for several years before I left the administrative suite. I have plenty in my memory banks to flavor the storylines in each book.

So, getting back to a DLSP.

Imagine a continuum with two images. On one end is the image non-educators may have of a school principal’s day—feet on the desk eating bonbons. On the other end is how put-upon principals may describe their worst day—juggling cats in a fierce whirlwind. The truth zigzags along that continuum at a surprisingly irregular pace. Full disclosure: I’ve witnessed neither the bonbon nor the juggling cats scenarios.

Now, let’s put that DLSP continuum into the context of my mystery series, which features school principal Ana Callahan, the local gal who left her hometown fifteen years earlier to save the world—one failing school at a time. In ChainLinked, Book 1 in the Moccasin Cove Mystery Series, Ana came back home to rescue her childhood elementary from state closure. I won’t go into more for fear of spoilers. However, because she’s the protagonist of a mystery series, Ana’s to-do list includes solving a murder or two.

Somewhere in between the bonbons and the cats…

A school principal’s day will include mind-numbing paperwork, student assessment data analysis, teacher observation, feedback, and training. Throw a touch of staff hiring and firing in the mix, just to keep it interesting.

On the public front, there will be both scheduled and impromptu parent meetings, often related to student discipline. Plus the occasional neighborhood scuffle will flow in with the students. And sometimes medical issues or family dynamics require the collaboration of school specialists. Nowadays, this job also includes managing the social media and school “branding.”

a school principal's day
photo by cdc on Unsplash.com

Then there’s the fun stuff—working with kids. From student arrival on foot, on the buses, and in cars to their hallway greetings and hard work in the classrooms, a principal’s mood is always buoyed by seeing the students at their best with their dedicated teachers. 

The most emotionally challenging aspect of school leadership

This would be the sheer toll of human loss and suffering. Sorry to be a Debbie-downer, but schools are microcosms of society and as such bear the same sorrows. They don’t go into that fact too closely in graduate school.

When Ana came home, Moccasin Cove Elementary and the island town it’s named for were stuck in a tsunami of economic chaos, which started with the closure of the largest local employer a decade earlier. Those with employable skills fled for the mainland and all points north. That left everyone else behind. Unemployment rates and the associated social maladies skyrocketed.

Unfortunately, the economic woes in Moccasin Cove are no different than those facing many public schools today. Like many real-life elementary school leaders, Ana is on the constant hunt for additional funding sources.

In Book 2, AppleJacked, this is exactly what Ana is up to when the murder plot rolls out.  She’s poised to win a half million-dollar school improvement grant to keep her school’s achievement on an upward trajectory. Returning bright futures to the students and to her community is her goal.

The learning curve on solving murders is steep, and not typically part of a school principal’s day. But it is on Ana’s to-do list when the death of a teacher during an inspection by the grant committee jeopardizes everything she’s worked so hard to achieve.

AppleJacked, A Moccasin Cove Mystery #2

Elementary principal Ana Callahan knows a thing or two about flipping failing schools, but she’s discovered the learning curve on solving murders is steep.

Now in the second year of her school rescue, in Moccasin Cove on Florida’s Gulf coast, Ana is on the verge of winning a pivotal grant award. But her grand plan hits a snag after a teacher is murdered and the crime is pinned on a runaway teenager Ana mentors. The story goes viral. Ana’s campus is besieged by the media, angry parents, and complex questions about the dead teacher’s past. Worse, the myopic rookie detective assigned to the case has her sights set on all the wrong suspects.

While grieving the teacher’s death, Ana starts her own investigation, but her discovery of a body on the beach pins a bullseye on Ana’s back. In her quest to solve two murders, locate the missing teen, and salvage the grant win, Ana unwittingly unleashes a riptide of childhood secrets that force her to learn a hard lesson… It takes a village to raise a child, but it may also take your life.

(2021 Finalist: Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense; 2015 Finalist: Royal Palm Literary Award)


Posted by Liz Boeger ~ Liz’s stint as a swimsuit model peaked in kindergarten. Her fallback career as a mystery author didn’t surface until she hit the mid-century mark. In between, she wrangled children, adults, and the occasional Florida panther as a teacher and school administrator. ChainLinked is her debut novel and Book 1 in the award-winning series, The Moccasin Cove Mysteries, inspired by her life experiences on Florida’s Gulf coast.

Misterio press produces an array of quality crime fiction. We post here about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays, to alert you to new releases, to entertain, and to inform.

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  • Reply
    Liz Boeger
    November 1, 2022 at 5:59 am

    Glad to be here today! I’ll check in on the comments between classes.

  • Reply
    Merri matalon
    November 6, 2022 at 3:04 pm

    Love your books

    • Reply
      Liz Boeger
      November 6, 2022 at 5:29 pm

      Thank you, Merri! We Love our Readers too!

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