School Business Affairs October 2020 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | OCTOBER 2020 15 EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP L eadership is essential for maximizing student learning. In schools, leadership typically centers on teachers, principals, and central office pro- fessionals. This focus, however, misses a vital component of providing all students with an effective education: support staff. The support staff are often the first school staff mem- bers to interact with students each day, whether on the school bus or in the breakfast line, and they are the last people many students see as they end their school day. Education systems that focus on building the leadership capacity of support staff will maximize the effectiveness of their organization in fulfilling the goal of providing a safe, secure, quality education environment. Developing Leadership in Noncertified Staff Helping support staff develop their leadership skills. By Paul Ziegler ANGELOV/STOCK.ADOBE.COM Support staff members may not identify themselves as leaders or aspire to strengthen their leadership skills. They often participate in school and district staff devel- opment because they are required to, not because they are seeking personal and professional growth in such areas as technology skills, budget management, self-care, and collaboration. Why is that? The path to leadership on the education side is clear: Teachers can become department chairs and then princi- pals, move into central office roles, and ultimately serve as superintendents. The leadership paths for support staff may not be as clear-cut. Helping support staff members realize that they can lead from any position strengthens the organization by improving employee satisfaction,