The Many Roles of APs: A Day in the Life of Chandra Garcia-Kitch

Assistant principals (APs) have multifaceted roles in Chicago’s public schools. They serve as instructional leaders, operational managers, student advocates, and important contact points for the community, among others. In this series, “The Many Roles of APs,” we present the work and experiences of APs around Chicago to better understand how they contribute to their school communities.


Chandra Garcia-Kitch’s day at William H. Ray Elementary School begins well before she arrives on campus. With 17 years invested in the Hyde Park school, she has taught everything from third grade to eighth, and the experiences she gained as a teacher helped her transition into an AP.

Chandra uses her long commute to plan the day ahead. “I arrive around 7:15 and use that quiet [commuting] time to mentally prepare for the day’s needs,” she says.

Once she arrives at school, Chandra handles administrative tasks. “The first hour is spent helping in the office, making sure teachers have everything they need,” she explains.

During the rest of the day, though, Chandra’s presence extends throughout the school: “I review lesson plans, handle discipline for grades five through eight, and participate in half of the grade book reviews.” Her rounds through the building are opportunities to connect, check on student well-being, and address immediate needs. “I walk the halls, checking in on everyone,” she says as she reflects on her daily interactions. “It’s probably 65% students and 30% teachers.”

Managing positive and productive relationships is vital to her role. Challenges are inevitable, but Chandra approaches them with empathy. “If a teacher is frustrated,” she says, “I remind them that everyone has tough days. We just take a break and come back to it later.” Whether addressing conflicts or supporting teachers with curriculum development, her focus remains on constructive outcomes and fostering a supportive learning environment. In fact, she recently led professional development for teachers to assess the data they collect, think about factors that may be driving trends, and consider how they can make classroom changes when necessary.

As the school day draws to a close, Chandra helps make sure after-school transitions go smoothly and that students get where they need to go. She organizes her workspace and takes time to reflect and provide support to teachers in the building — whether it is workshopping a challenging lesson or figuring out how to support a student in need.

Chandra’s typical day illustrates the complexity of a job that is often overlooked. She recalls having conversations in which people say, “Well, you just help the principal.” But that perspective oversimplifies her intermediary role, as Chandra describes it, in which she not only supports students and teachers but also her principal. “It’s kind of a catch-all,” she says of the AP position, acknowledging the diverse responsibilities that come with it.

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