It's a learning process for those in front of the classroom, too.
And it's even tougher for the new face in the principal's office.
"I'm nervous, I'm a little overwhelmed, but I'm ready at the same time," said LaJuana Quarles, the incoming principal for National Hills Elementary School.
The new school year brings first-year principals to five Richmond County schools. It's not rare for several new principals to start at once, schools spokesman Louis Svehla said, but it does bring challenges.
"We're meeting with staff, going over test scores, planning the first day, preparing for registration," Quarles said. "It's a lot. It really is."
The other first-year principals are Jamie T. McCord at Jamestown Elementary School, J. Gordon Holley at A. Dorothy Hains Elementary School, Larina Thomas at Hephzibah Middle School and Valerie McGahee at Wheeless Road Elementary School.
All five were assistant principals or have held leadership positions. For some, the transition will be almost unnoticeable. For others, it will be a major change of scenery.
McCord spent the past six years dealing with about 900 teenagers a day as an assistant principal at Butler High School.
This year, she'll be taking on 350 elementary schoolers.
"People are telling me I'll have to get used to (pupils) grabbing me by my leg and wanting my attention," McCord said. "At that age, they think the principal is cool; they want to talk to you. That's versus big high school students who are grown and don't really want to be seen hugging you anymore."
Principals must forget a 9-to-5 schedule. After-hours meetings and school functions carry the job beyond a 40-hour work week.
"Being the principal, you're the overseer," Thomas said. "You don't know it all, but you have to know a little bit about everything that's going on in the building."
Expectations come with the position. When schools fail to meet state and federal benchmarks, fingers often point at the principal.
For that reason, the first-year principals have set high standards. Holley said he plans to increase the number of pupils passing state tests and better track their academic progress throughout the year.
After all, that's his job.
"As principal, the buck stops here," Holley said.