The Dark Side

Finding empathy for those in administration and understanding the difficult job they are tasked with.


The Dark Side; A playful term used to describe teachers who become administrators. These teachers are going into the role of “the boss”. Making them separate and different from most in their community. But is this necessarily true? And if not what does the “Dark Side” look like?   

Westminster Administration is composed of six department heads and the Grade Level Principals. Each member has a different role in running the school, for example, there is a Head of Admissions, Head of Academic Development, etc. All of these people work to keep Westminster running 24/7, all year long. 

One such person is Mr. Gall. He works in the Upper School Office and is the Head of Academic Development. I sat down with Gall to talk about administration, and how he and his colleagues are perceived by students. “I think that at every school in the world there has been a gap between administrators and students,” Gall stated, “the administration is seen as those who hold the line in certain areas.” He elaborated that the administration is trying to improve each student’s experience at Westminster while also upholding Christian values. “‘To prepare and equip more young men and women to engage the world and change it for Jesus Christ’,” as he pointed to the framed Westminster mission statement. When asked about whether students are angry about decisions made by the administration, Gall said this: “I know that certain decisions may frustrate students[…] but I don’t think it’s unfair that students feel frustrated by decisions we make,” Gall further explained that it is almost like parenting. He has to make decisions for the good of his children.   “Sometimes that answer to these questions disappoint students, but as administrators, we love to hear that,” 

In addition to this, I sat down with Mr. Burke, the 11th and 12th Grade Principal. He works on behalf of Juniors and Seniors to make their lives better. “A lot of my day is occupied with putting out fires,” Burke explained. His job is to investigate concerns from students, teachers, and parents. “When a decision is made, some people gain something, and others lose something,” He explained that he tries to create a balance between many different facets. Juggling the interests of alumni, students, teachers, and parents all at once. “[…]it takes a special type of person who is selfless and willing to do what it takes to inspire people about something,” Someone who is in administration has to be a set-apart person. A leader who can hear the voices of those they serve and fight for them, while also preserving the institution they work for. 

Lastly, I interviewed Mrs. Graham, the 9th and 10th Grade Principal. She is in a similar role to Mr. Burke but she works on the behalf of underclassmen. A long-time English teacher Mrs. Graham came into the role of an administrator later in life. “Rather than helping students directly, I was now supporting their teachers,” Graham elaborated. “The people who teach and work at Westminster, we’re not just transmitting knowledge, we know that what we are studying is a reflection of Jesus Christ,” She compared her transition from teacher to administrator as such: “The usual terminology used is going to the ‘Dark Side’[…] the tendency and the fear is that people who make policy will forget what it’s like to be in a classroom with actual students,” Graham remarked that she certainly does remember what it’s like. She has been a mother, teacher, and administrator, if anyone has a good perspective it is her. Mrs. Graham may have gone over to the “Dark Side” but it isn’t as bad as many leads you to believe.

At times we tend to simplify things. People assign blanket definitions to administrators far too often, now is the time to end this cycle and respect those who work for us.