Back to School, Principals!

September 6, 2016


Tim McClimon

Last year, American Express and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) announced $2.5 million in grants to help prepare and train principals of elementary and secondary schools over a three year period with an eye toward the long-term sustainability of the programs. The grants were awarded in recognition of principals’ crucial role in school improvement, and as part of our effort to help develop the next generation of nonprofit and social purpose leaders.

The grant program, dubbed Principals Path to Leadership, solicited proposals from school districts, state departments of education and U.S.-based nonprofit organizations that manage programs to train new and emerging K-12 principals. A selection committee comprising NASSP professional development staff, NASSP-recognized principals, American Express Foundation staff and education leadership experts reviewed over 70 applications and selected these five winning proposals:

  • Alabama State Department of Education (Montgomery, Alabama). This grant is supporting the statewide implementation of the Alabama Strong: Principals as Catalysts for School Improvement program. As part of the Alabama State Department of Education’s commitment to an integrated learning statewide rollout, 50 school districts and approximately 300 principals are currently involved in the initiative. Our funding is helping to expand the work being done by adding in-depth leadership development as well as coaching and training for 71 principals and their leadership teams in high poverty areas throughout Alabama.
  • Arlington Independent School District (Arlington, Texas). Our grant is supporting the Emerging Leaders Program, designed to strengthen the leadership skills of 105 assistant and aspiring principals, directing them on a path to becoming principals. The program, in partnership with New Leaders, a national nonprofit that develops school leaders, includes a summer induction session, ongoing webinars, and one-on-one coaching.
  • Learning Forward (Oxford, Ohio). This grant is supporting Learning Leaders for Learning Schools, a partnership between the Arizona chapter of Learning Forward and the Arizona Department of Education. The program is providing leadership training to 80 current and aspiring principals and it includes seminars, small communities of practice and personalized coaching.
  • North Carolina Principals and Assistant Principals Association (Raleigh, North Carolina). This grant is supporting Distinguished Leadership in Practice, a rigorous leadership development program reaching 135 early-career principals and assistant principals. The blended program includes face-to-face sessions every other month, followed by a six-week online, application-based course.
  • NYC Leadership Academy (Long Island City, New York). Our grant is supporting the Aspiring Principals Program, which has been expanded to serve multiple school districts in the New York Tristate area to prepare and support 50 aspiring principals and train approximately 50 local mentor principals. The program includes a multi-week summer intensive leadership training program as well as face-to-face and online-facilitated learning sessions throughout the academic year.

Early reports are showing substantial progress and favorable reviews from the participants. It is anticipated that effective practices will be collected and disseminated in the hopes of reaching more leaders and having a broader impact in the field of elementary and secondary education.

“Principal leadership is an essential component of any school-wide improvement initiative, especially now as schools remodel their internal structures to implement college and career-ready standards,” said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. “We deeply value the partnership of American Express in our shared goal of providing the best preparation possible for the next wave of principals who will advance student achievement.”

  If you have a question or comment about this blog posting, please follow me on Twitter at @timmcclimon and start a conversation there. Thanks for reading and sharing this posting with colleagues and friends. Happy new school year!

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