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This case reviews the facts behind an effort to transform an underachieving elementary school through the lens of the school principal and the district superintendent. Written from two different perspectives, the principal's A case (UVA-OB-1004) has Matthew Landahl, a principal at a high functioning school at central office meeting with superintendent and talking about his experiences as a Teach For America (TFA) teacher and how much he missed it. The superintendent asks him if he would be interested in taking on the principalship at Greer Elementary, explaining that it was about as close to a TFA school as he would find in a small city. Although he was told to take some time and think about it, Landahl immediately imagined himself in the role of principal at Greer and the challenges he would face. Would the position at Greer really offer the kind of leadership challenges and rewards he wanted? If he took the job, what strategies would be needed to help Greer students and staff succeed? And what kind of support would he need to ask of the superintendent? This case has been taught in an executive education school turnaround program for district administrators and principals. It could also be used in a first-year MBA leadership and organizational behavior course as an introduction on creating value through people-management and design.
•To introduce students to the complexity of organizational design and human resource systems. •To encourage students to appreciate the importance of understanding human systems and developing people-management skills. •To help students recognize the implicit or explicit framing of a situation as a problem and re-frame it in purposeful ways. •To think about alignment between an organization’s policies and procedures and the people side (trust, relationships). •To help students see ways in which people and people-management add value to organizations and their stakeholders.