Board Recruitment and the Role of the Principal

By Ian Timmerman  |  January 10th

It’s that time of year again when boards begin the process of seeking new board members. This process should be much more than just finding someone who is willing—sometimes the person who raises their hand is not the right person. How can you, as a principal, guide your board through best practices for recruitment?

First, you need to be clear on what the role of the board is. The board’s primary role is governance, not management! Ensure there is a “job description” for board members, so it’s clear the board is looking for members who will focus on the long-term mission and vision of the school.

But how do you ensure that a potential board candidate has that focus and is in alignment with the mission and vision of the school? You’ll achieve this through a solid recruitment process, which is the next key step. Your process could include a standard questionnaire to give you a chance to get to know the candidates. An interview with one or two current board members will also help the board to determine if the candidate is the right fit. In the same way that your school carefully recruits and screens its staff, so too should you be carefully recruiting and screening prospective board members. This will help ensure that strong candidates are presented to your members for election (if this is your governance structure) and that the focus of the board will be focused in the right direction.

And finally, your board needs to be a board worth serving on. If prospective board members ask a current board member what were the key accomplishments of the board last year, what would their answer be? Attracting the right people to your board means ensuring that their skills and time are well used. No one wants to volunteer simply to sit in long meetings that lack direction and focus. But the opportunity to be part of a team that engages with the vision of the school and develops plans for the long-term success and flourishing of the school will attract engaged, purposeful leaders to your board team.

What is your role in all of this? Finding the right leaders who will focus on the long-term mission and vision is a goal that is very important to you as principal as well. Having a strong mission-focused board that works with the principal to see the school flourish is crucial to the success of the school, and needs to be the concern of every principal, not just the board.  

In a school that already has a strong recruitment process in place, your role will be to remind the board of the importance of these goals and to facilitate the process by suggesting names to the nominating committee. As principal, you are uniquely positioned to interact with a lot of parents in the school and to get to know them. You can use that knowledge to help your Board find the right board candidates.

In a school that does not yet have a process in place, you may need to help the board see the importance of the establishing a process to ensure the right candidates are found. The best place to start might be to have a conversation with your board chair. You can also help the board with resources and encouragement to move towards these goals. Below are some suggested resources that are available on the Edvance Affiliate Portal.

Spending the time to recruit the right board members is worth the effort! A strong, mission-focused board will strengthen the partnership between board and principal, move the school towards its mission, and see your school and students flourish!

As always, the team at Edvance is ready to help. Feel free to reach out with any questions. I can be reached at or 289.203.7171 x108


Resources on the Edvance Affiliate Portal:

Edvance Affiliate school leaders can get access by logging in at the top of this website.

The following resources can be found under “Resources > Governance”:

  • Board Member Recruitment: Expectations and Application Process includes a section on the expectations and characteristics needed of board members and a section on an application/interview process.
  • Board Member Recruitment: Overview Presentation (PowerPoint) gives further information and suggestions regarding the recruitment and application process.

Other Resources:

Book: Guiding Schools to FlourishHenry Contant & Edward Noot