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My job shadowing adventure: Principal Doll wears many hats–leader, teacher, friend

by Devin Barge, Editor

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I had the opportunity to shadow Mrs. Nancy Doll for an entire school day and got an insider’s look at what it’s like to be a public high school principal.  It might seem like I had a “day off,” but my day became a tremendous learning experience.

10) Nancy’s Notes

Every Friday, Mrs. Doll sends out a memo/announcements along with school goals to all staff members in the school. These announcements are then sent electronically through email at the end of the day. If any new information becomes relevant during the day, it’s added to the memo. Once sent, staff members can read the information over the weekend before the following school week.

9) Master Plan Adviser:

When each student fills out his or her schedule form, that information is sent to the student services office and Mrs. Doll oversees the team of staff that constructs next year’s master plan for the schedule. This information, otherwise known as the “Master Plan,” is useful because teachers will be able to learn how many students they will be instructing once the schedule is finalized. The plan is set out on a large magnetic board that is categorized which each teacher and the instructional subjects.  This whole process takes approximately 6-8 months to complete.

8) Emergency Procedures

In times of emergency we have standard procedures such as fire drills, tornado drills, and lock down drills. However, Mrs. Doll and the staff drill for unexpected events such as an active shooter entering the building. Usually in this situation, teachers would block and lock all exterior doors. Then students would hide under a desk or table to protect themselves. However, at Virginia Tech, an active school shooter was present and entered the classrooms full of students and opened fire. In response to this tragic incident, Ms Doll and the staff are working with the Frederick Sheriff’s Department to learn new techniques for dealing with this type of emergency.

On Friday, March 31, when students have the day off but teachers are working on end-of-term grades, officers will come to the school and stage an situation that replicates an active shooter emergency. Following this demonstration, there will be a Q&A session held with the officers and staff to determine a safe plan of action for the protection of students. The event is the fourth session of training that staff has received this spring.

7) Caregiver

In between classes, Mrs. Doll enjoys monitoring the hallways throughout the school, greeting students as they are headed to their classes. During class, she will tour some classrooms to get a glimpse of students and teachers in active learning.

“I just like to see how students are doing throughout their days, since I know that some of them are struggling. It’s nice to just give them words of encouragement so that they know that someone cares,” said Doll.

6) Monitoring performance data

During the day, Ms. Doll meets with teachers regarding their curriculum plans to check in and see how students are performing. Math is one of the largest subjects, with students who are in multiple ranges of courses. Tests such as Unit tests and Benchmarks serve as a guideline to show what students have learned over the semester. Based on these scores, teachers can determine whether to lighten or add on to the load of information being taught. If the scores are distributed evenly across the board, then the curriculum for the most part can remain the same.

5) Tour Guide

Today, Mrs. Doll met with Dr. George Seaton, who is a Curriculum Director for FCPS, Language Arts Teacher Specialist Kristi Schmidt, and CTE Coordinator for Curriculum and Instructional Innovation Eric Haines. These FCPS leaders came to see how blended learning is incorporated into the classroom. Since LHS has a large 1:1 program, what the visitors observe will be shared with other schools and programs in the county.

4) Team Player

Mrs. Doll meets meets twice a week with her administrative team, once during school and again after the school day so that they are not cutting into any teacher’s time. She also meets with the counselors once a week to discuss matters of student attendance to review the students who are in school and those who are not.  She reviews attendance and academic data points, taking the “pulse” of the life of the building.

3) Supervisor

Another objective that the administration team and Mrs. Doll tackle is the planning of supervision of activities that engage the student body: sports events, school musicals, honor society induction ceremonies, and prom. Administration must attend and support all events that are planned by groups like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), the Student Government Association (SGA) and more.  

2) Fiscal management

An important component to being a principal is the overseeing of the school’s budget as a whole. Mrs. Doll has the responsibility of looking over of all the budgets of each school department. A large piece of this process is determining how much paper as a school we use, which is an FCPS goal.  

1) Cheerleader

This year, teachers can nominate their students for awards and certificates that are signed by Mrs. Doll. These awards recognize students who go above and beyond in their classrooms. Our principal also loves to interact with the students. She will write student letters of recommendations for students who are applying for colleges and/or scholarships.


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My job shadowing adventure: Principal Doll wears many hats–leader, teacher, friend