CTE Career Journeys – High School Principal

Antonette Adams

Sr. Product Marketing Manager • Career and Technical Education • National Geographic Learning | Cengage

The Career and Technical Education (CTE) Career Journeys series is aimed to shed light on current career trends as they align to student career clusters. In this series installation, we have interviewed Chris Orr, a High School Principal in the Education & Training career cluster. Chris shares with us the career journey that lead her to his current role with Capital Christian High School. Chris dives what motivated him to pursue this career, milestones that lead to where he’s at today, how she stands out in her field and advice for others looking to pursue this career. This series also offers career outlook data collected from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Interview information

Name: Chris Orr

Title: High School Principal

Career Cluster: Education & Training

Company: Capital Christian High School

Additional Career Highlight Information

Career Outlook: 1% increase (little to no change)

Median Salary: $101,320 per year

Education Needed: Teaching experience and a master’s degree in education administration or leadership

*All career outlook data is collected from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Orr Pic

Question and Answer with Chris Orr

Q: What motivated or inspired you to pursue your particular role or career path?

A: I was fortunate enough to have family, educators, coaches, and a community who guided and inspired me to follow the path of academic excellence, moral values, civic responsibility, and discipline. I also recognized that every child in my community did not get the support and guidance that I did. I felt an urgent call to be to young people what many were for me.

Q: What were the key milestones or turning points in your career or life that led you to where you are today?

A: Following graduation from college, I did not have a clear path of what I wanted to do. Initially, I took a corporate job that provided a decent salary, got married, bought a house, and started a family. But something was missing. Even though my dad told me when I graduated college to look at education as a career, I didn’t take his advice right away – but he always knew. 

Outside of my professional and family life, I volunteered to coach, tutor, and mentor kids – that was my passion. As I began to surround myself with other educators, they began to influence and encourage me to pursue education as a career. I thought and prayed mightily in considering this move. At the time, I had a mortgage and a family depending on me. Any career decision had to be sound. I received some key advice and support during this time. One was from Mrs. Irene B. West – who was a legendary educator in our community who shared her pure joy in serving students and families daily. Another was from my Pastor who helped me see this was what I was being “called” to do – which was much bigger than just a job. And the final was from my wife. She believed in me and gave me the confidence that we would be able to make this move together. 

I resigned from my corporate job and started substitute teaching. Within a couple of months, I was offered a full time teaching position. Since then I have progressed into education programming, Dean of Students, Assistant Principal, and now a principal role. The decision I made over 20 years ago has been validated ten-fold. It was absolutely the best decision I’ve ever made.

Q: What strategies did you employ to stand out in your field and differentiate yourself from others?

A: My approach in education has never been about comparing myself to other educators. It has always purely been about serving students and families. I firmly believe that when your drive is to serve in a great way, opportunities and success will take care of itself.

Q: Looking back, is there anything you would do differently in your career journey or advice you’d offer individuals in or considering your field?

My only wish is I would’ve known my path right out of college and got started sooner. However, I do value my experiences because it makes me appreciate the outcome even more. I use my experience as a guide for students. I advise students heading into college to study something they love, because it will lead to a career that they love. It’s normal to look at careers that have big salaries, but your lifelong work is more than that. There is nothing better than making a living doing something you love to do.

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