Faith-based schools may choose to appoint an internal interim to serve in the lead role to allow time to hire a new head of school. This role of standing in the gap is more significant than just stepping up to run the school for a period of months. Effective transition and staff retention requires that all school personnel understand the dynamics of this role. Part one of this article discussed reasons why an interim may be appointed and what the goals of an internal interim head of school should be. This second part examines ways to support school staff during an interim period and how the interim should transition out of the position once a new head of school is hired.

Ways to Partner with Staff during the Interim Period

Change is unsettling. The more sudden and significant the change, the more likely that emotions will be strong – from distraught to angry. “It is important to keep morale high during a period that even in the best of circumstances can be fraught with concern over the unknown of what comes next” (Kristof-Brown 2023). This is where the internal interim has an advantage. He/She can be comforting and save time because relationships and trust are already established. The interim must lean heavily upon that to prevent a mass exodus. Newer employees who have not weathered significant changes will be navigating territory for which they have no experience. They need to know that the interim cares about their concerns.

Conversely, veteran staff members may battle feelings of defeat and resent another upheaval. Listening goes a long way in helping people feel supported. The interim should also be open to advice which will give others within the school an opportunity to step up and contribute to the way forward.

Effective Exit Strategies for Interims

Just as it is not easy to become an interim, it is also not easy when the time comes to step down. If one was hoping to be considered for the position permanently, finding out that a new head of school has been hired can be quite a letdown. Stepping down or away is a letdown even if the end was anticipated. The interim will have expended enormous amounts of physical and emotional energy and will need support and encouragement. One strategy for encouraging a departing interim might be to give the person a few days off to rest and transition out of the role. Time away would allow for prayer, time in the Word, and rest. Sometimes we don’t think we need a break when we actually do. Giving an interim a few days off would help him/her make the transition to back to work under new leadership.

After a brief time off, the now former interim will want to focus on helping to facilitate a good transition. First, one should limit what is said; it can be hard to keep one’s thoughts and feelings to oneself, but this is a key time to do so. If the new leader is an experienced professional, he/she will come to the interim when help is needed. For the interim to stay in his/her lane will be tricky at this point; this leader just stepped off a super highway and will need to find his/her lane again.

Secondly, one should focus on humility. Pray for a renewed attitude of servanthood. Read scriptures such as Philippians 2:6-11 with a goal of having the humility of Christ. The interim must be prepared for the fact that the new leader will do things differently, and he/she will no longer have a say in many decisions. Finally, it is essential to find joy and purpose in the next phase of one’s career; the internal interim had a chance to serve well in a time when the school needed him/her most, but one’s calling to faith-based education is not over!


Whether you are asked to serve as an interim or find yourself working under one at some point, recognize that this situation has unique challenges that go beyond typical school life. Knowing what to expect and shedding unrealistic expectations will help one to be successful without sacrificing emotional wellbeing. Change can be good even when it is difficult.

An internal interim who loves God and others and is passionate about helping a school succeed can literally be the difference between your school surviving or closing. Esther saved her people because she honored God, utilized prayer, and acted with wisdom and deliberation. In a time when many faith-based schools are struggling, the interim can be an instrument in the Master’s hands to sustain and strengthen a vital ministry. “Servant leaders, who consider their position as being on loan as an act of service, look beyond their own season of leadership and prepare the next generation of leaders” (Blanchard & Hodges 2003). This is the ultimate goal and gift of the interim head of school.

Reference List

Blanchard, K. & Hodges, P. (2003). The Servant Leader. Thomas Nelson.

Evans, C. (2019). What Exactly Does an Interim Headmaster Do? Covenant Christian Academy Blog. 

Katz, J. (2021). The Virtues of an Interim Headship. (2021). RG175. 

Kristof-Brown, A. (2023). Interim leadership is overlooked. Here are 4 tips on doing it effectively. Higher Ed Dive. 

Watchorn, V. (2003). The Strategic Value of an Interim Head: A Conversation with Ralph Wells. SAIS. 

Dr. Renee L. Mungons has served at Emmanuel Christian School in Toledo, OH, for 38 years. She taught a variety of subjects in grades 4-12. Currently she is the Dean of Curriculum and Instruction for a student body of 517 students. For ten months in 2023, she served as her school’s Interim Head of school. Emmanuel has been accredited by the ACSI since 1992 and subscribed to Curriculum Trak since 2013. Dr. Mungons received her undergraduate degree in elementary education from Faith Baptist Bible College. She earned her master’s in education and Ph.D. at the University of Toledo where she majored in literacy and minored in educational technology. She has been an adjunct professor at Fairview Baptist Bible College in Jamaica where she taught research writing, and she also teaches graduate education courses online for Heidelberg University in Tiffin, OH. Renee welcomes your questions and comments; you may contact her at