Building Better Schools by Engaging Support Staff

by William S. Bartlett and Violet Herlocker, Engage! Press, Galax, Va., 2007, 176 pp., $24.95 softcover

Behind every successful school administrator are members of a school’s support staff — secretaries, instructional aides, custodians, cafeteria workers, maintenance workers and bus drivers.

In their book Building Better Schools by Engaging Support Staff, authors William Bartlett and Violet Herlocker refer to these professionals as ambassadors for the schools at which they are employed. Bartlett, the CEO of Family Friendly Schools, is supported by his colleague Herlocker’s more than 30 years of work as a teacher and elementary school administrator.



Throughout the book, the authors share powerful stories of the contributions made by 21 support staff members, each representing a different school. The last section features a Hall of Engaged Ambassadors. In addition to a photo of each, the staff members share their perceptions about how their contributions to the school’s mission reflect the ownership each feels for his or her position.

The practical suggestions and examples make this book a worthy resource for school leaders. If understanding what teamwork means, and if their concept of “sizzling customer service” is part of the educational mission of your school district or school, then the book is a must-have.

Reviewed by George E. Pawlas, professor of educational leadership, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Fla.