The changing character of school leadership in British Columbia is the subject of the essays found in this volume. We see how provincial school leadership changed from the time of the gentlemen scholars who staffed schools and the government's small Education Office in the Victorian Era to the men and women who administer today's complex school system as superintendents, principals, and educational bureaucrats. The essays in the first part of the volume examine the character of school leadership in its oldest, most centralized, and most colonial form. Here we find provincial school superintendents and their inspectorial brigades struggling to bring some measure of order, standardization, and equality to schools scattered across an enormous provincial territory.
In the volume's second part the school leadership activities of men and women outside the “inner circle” of government are investigated--trustees, locally-appointed superintendents, principals, teachers, and public representatives who often saw the needs of children and communities from a vantage point far different than that of the educational civil service, and who sometimes withheld assent to the dictates of the Education Office. These narratives take a “bottom-up” rather than a “top-down” view of leadership, illustrating civic battles for educational independence, the vagaries of city and small-town politics, local indifference to the plight of rural teachers, and women's century-long struggle to gain access and recognition in school leadership's highest ranks.