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When my children were in elementary school, I did a stint as PTA president, and one of the first things I learned was that I had a lot to learn.

Newly elected at the last meeting of the year, I was surprised when the principal asked to sit down with me the morning after school ended. I had thought the principal would breathe a sigh of relief, close up shop, and take off a day or two before starting on whatever work she had. But she was a very experienced principal, and she knew that there was no time to waste.

So first thing on that June morning, she and I met and planned out the year’s schedule of PTA meetings and other major events where parents would be involved — the parent-student dance, the spring fair, curriculum night, band concerts, fifth-grade promotion, and so forth.

I knew that calendars and schedules were the lifeblood of any school, but this was the first time I had participated in any way. What struck me was the depth of knowledge and attention to detail that the principal brought to the task: Parent open houses should be early in the year to capitalize on fresh enthusiasm; curriculum night should be coordinated with the book fair and required dinner and transportation; we would need to request folding chairs and tables from the school district immediately for the spring fair 10 months hence or risk losing out to some other enterprising PTA.

For me as a parent, it was a window into the incredibly complex workings of a relatively small elementary school in a relatively large school district. Over the years, I have learned that building a calendar is just one step in the complex job that principals need to do at the end of the school year, and in this week’s Huffington Post, I report on some of that work.

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