The Case of the Failing Twin

Categories: Case StudyLeadership

After reading the case study on, “The Case of the failing twin”, I realized that a principal must be a strong and effective leader in many aspects to make their school successful for students and teachers. In this case study, Ms. Rivington has been the principal of Oren Elementary for 5 years. It consists of approximately 60% Latino and 40% African-American students most coming from extremely low socioeconomic backgrounds. Oren Elementary is located in a high crime area. Ms. Rivington has two assistant principals that assist her with the campus.

In the previous years, before Ms. Rivington was principal, Oren Elementary suffered from low test scores and was on the brink of having an assigned state school monitor to supervise the elementary. At the beginning of Ms. Rivington’s tenure, she was determined to tackle these issues and turn the school around by setting it on a positive trend. She has accomplished her goal of turning the school around with the help of her staff.

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Ms. Boyd is a parent of twins that are enrolled in Oren Elementary. The twins are assigned to two very different teachers, Ms. Dary and Ms. Johnson. Some of the differences between these two teachers include class discipline, structure, and grading policy. Ms. Boyd, being a concerned parent, has noticed that one of her daughters has not been doing well in Ms. Dary’s class, and has brought the issue up with the teacher thru numerous calls and emails. She has also notified the principal, Ms. Rivington about her concern.

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Although Ms. Rivington has addressed the concern with Ms. Dary, there has not been a noticeable change in her daughter’s class work and has been showing up with failing grades. Ms. Dary has increasingly grown agitated about the whole situation and wants something to be resolved, because she feels that her daughter is not being given the proper education.

Ms. Rivington’s vision for her role as principal is one that allows teacher empowerment. She feels that sharing the responsibility of her school and having freedom of instruction for all teachers, creates a positive climate that is supportive of her ideas. Ms. Rivington contributes the success of the school, to her leadership style. As Ms. Rivington has now been principal for 5 years, the teachers are beginning to have their own philosophy of teaching. She is struggling with teachers not wanting to follow her ideas as a leader and is losing control of her staff. Her staff is aware of the ongoing situation with the parent and after numerous staff meetings, it seems that the situation has continued to get out of control. Now with this issue of the parent, the teachers feel that Ms. Rivington is not supporting her teachers and backing the parent.

Vision of being a “Leader”

The issue that needs to be addressed by Ms. Rivington is her philosophy of the vision she has set for her campus as a leader. Teachers feel that they are free to do whatever they want pertaining to the education setting in the classroom. Ms. Rivington has given them control to do as they please by asking them if they would like to be self-contained or a class rotation. Meanwhile, the teachers are setting their own rules, grading policies, and all other aspects of classroom management. The teachers are feeling empowered to be in control of every aspect of whatever happens in their classroom.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is Ms. Rivington losing control of her staff. Ms. Rivington has not been able to handle the situation with the parent and her 4th grade class properly, this is leading to her other teachers not wanting the twins in their class the upcoming year. The teachers feel that Ms. Rivington has sided with the parents and they no longer have the support of the campus administration. The situation has also spiraled out of control by Ms. Dary going to speak to the central office administration about the problem at Ms. Rivington’s campus.


The primary problem is Ms. Rivington’s leadership style. A leader must guide their teachers to be better educators. A principal who instills leadership qualities to their teachers will have greater success in student achievement. One must be able to set and implement a clear vision that is understood by all stakeholders. Ms. Rivington’s has delegated her leadership roles to her teachers by being more of an adviser and that is not what a successful leader should do. She has to be able to lead by example so that the teachers follow her example. She must lead from a position of strength by collaborating with all staff members in how to improve the education on the campus and making the most informed decisions. A leader must make difficult decisions when necessary that is always in the best interest of the students and staff. A leader must also remain strong when times get difficult for example Ms. Rivington losing control of her staff.

Actions to be taken

One of the actions that need to be taken to correct the problem of the upset parent is having a parent teacher conference to hear the concerns of the parent. I would begin by conducting a walk-through to observe how Ms. Dary conducts her class. I would then bring her in to my office to let her know that one of her parents is concerned about her daughter. Even though the teacher might not be happy with what Ms. Rivington is telling her, she must know what the parent’s concerns are, so this will not happen again. Ms. Rivington should speak to Ms. Dary before the conference to let her know what she expects from her and the district procedures that are in place in dealing with a parent. For example, they can sit and review Ms. Dary’s classroom data to see where she needs improvement. Ms. Dary might be upset with Ms. Rivington’s recommendations, but she is the principal and must let the teacher know how to better her classroom. During the parent/teacher conference, we must draft a realistic solution to address the parents’ concerns. If the parent is still not happy with the outcome, you may advise her to follow the chain of command and proceed to the next level.

Another action that needs to be taken to correct the problem is addressing all staff. Ms. Rivington can call a meeting where they revisit the vision statement, campus policy, grading policy, rules and procedures, and define her expectations of what she expects from her teachers. Communication is key to get all this information out to her staff. Weekly meetings need to be taking place to correct the problem of the teachers being insubordinate towards her directives. She may want to bring in teachers to her office and ask them about their thoughts on how they are implementing the vision for the campus and meeting their goals. She needs to have more communication with her staff on an individual basis. Ms. Rivington needs to change the teachers’ mentality of freedom that she has allowed. Domain II Competency 005 states that a principal ensures that all students are provided high-quality, flexible instructional programs with appropriate resources and services to meet individual student needs (

Recommendations for Oren Elementary

I would have several recommendations for Ms. Rivington. One recommendation is for Ms. Rivington to observe other elementary campuses to see how the teachers respond to the principal. She can spend the day shadowing the other principal and sit in on a staff meeting to see how the principal carries herself. Observations can also be very helpful by exposing yourself to what others are doing. Another recommendation would be to gather the SBDM committee and ask for suggestions on how to best improve the situation at the school. We can discus all ideas including the ongoing problem of the parent to come up with solutions to better the education of all students on the campus. Ms. Rivington can revisit a list of things like her grading policy, tardy policy, and all other items she feels need to be corrected or adjusted. She can choose the best ideas that were presented to her and make her most informed decision on what was communicated in the meeting. These two recommendations would come at no cost to the district and are very important to help keep the school running smoothly so a problem like this will not become a reoccurring problem.

I would also recommend for Ms. Rivington to attend a workshop/seminar on leadership skills on what it takes to be a successful leader. This would come at a minimal cost for the school and it is always important for principals and all staff members to stay up to date on new methods to help keep the school running more efficiently. I feel that attending workshops is always very productive because it gathers leaders from very different schools and sometimes allows them to share ideas. This is what makes you a better leader. The school district that Oren Elementary is a part of should have a principal evaluation system in place so they can keep track of how their principals are doing. I believe this would benefit the principals and the schools greatly by seeing where they are lacking.


After reflecting on Case Study #4, I believe that a principal must be a strong leader that guides their teachers and encourages them to be better educators for the sake of their students. In order for a school to be successful everybody needs to work as a team. A principal must realize that they are the leader of the team. The teacher’s success is the principal’s success which in turn is the school’s success. A principal must teach their teachers how to lead and be strong leaders. A principal is responsible for the quality of education at a school and must be firm on issues pertaining to students’ academic success. Ultimately, the principal is the main person in charge of their campus. They are the ones that take the blame for the negative and the positive is shared by all campus members. Every day is a learning experience and one must keep that in mind.

Concluding Remarks

I know Ms. Rivington’s intentions were good intentions. She could have handled the whole situation a bit differently if not for her leadership style. She was too focused on being liked by all her staff that in the end, they really did not like her as the leader of their school. Most people do not like to be pressured as Ms. Rivington would let her teachers work on whatever they wanted with no policies in place. As my principal told me, you must keep the pressure on your teachers in order for them to perform better.


  • Andrews, R. L., & Soder, R. (1987). Principal Leadership and Student Achievement. Educational Leadership, 44(6), 9.
  • Bloom, C. M. (2011). Leadership effectiveness and instructional supervision: The case of the failing twin. Journal of Case Studies in Education, 1, 1-14.
  • Mary and John Gray Library. (n.d.). Retrieved August 7, 2018, from
  • Waters, J. T., Marzano, R. J., & McNulty, B. (2004). Leadership That Sparks Learning. Educational Leadership, 61(7), 48.
  • Wilson, D. L. (2011). Successful Educational Leadership at High Performing Schools. Online Submission, 393-398.

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The Case of the Failing Twin. (2021, Sep 02). Retrieved from

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