Today marks the 20th anniversary of the first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We didn’t get too many in-depth characterizations of the teachers at Sunnydale High School, but we will always remember Buffy’s principals: Flutie and Snyder, who had very different leadership styles.
Principal Flutie was all about the kids. He wanted to be sure they were comfortable and happy in the school environment, and sought to relate to them as equals:
“Welcome to Sunnydale. A clean slate, Buffy, that’s what you get here. What’s past is past. We’re not interested in what it says on a piece of paper.”
“We all need help with our feelings. Otherwise we bottle them up, and before you know it, powerful laxatives are involved.”
“I’m always here if you need a hug, [jumps back] but not a real hug! Because there’s no touching, this school is sensitive to wrong touching.”
Even dealing with the worst sort of student discipline problem, Principal Flutie remained measured and reasonable: “I’m willing to talk to the school counselor and we can discuss options.”
Seconds later, he was eaten alive by students who were possessed by demonic hyenas.
His replacement, Principal Snyder, was very much the authoritarian. He was dismissive of Principal Flutie’s leadership style on more than one occasion:
“My predecessor, Mr. Flutie, may have gone in for that touchy-feely relating nonsense, but he was eaten. You’re in my world now. And Sunnydale has touched and felt for the last time.”
“That’s the kind of wooly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten.”
“A lot of educators tell students, ‘Think of your principal as your pal.’ I say, think of me as your judge, jury, and executioner.”
“One day, the campus is completely bare, empty. The next, there are children everywhere…like locusts. Crawling around, mindlessly bent on feeding and mating. Destroying everything in sight in their relentless, pointless desire to exist.”
“Congratulations to the Class of 1999. You all proved more or less adequate.”
Principal Snyder was also eaten alive, by Sunnydale mayor-turned-snake-demon Wilkins.
The lesson is brutally obvious. No matter your school leadership style, you will be eaten alive.