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Webinar to Discuss High-Quality Preservice Preparation for School Leaders

On Thursday, November 30, AACTE will host a free webinar on preparing principals for effective leadership, with support from The Wallace Foundation. Please join us from 3:00-4:00 p.m. EST for Principals as Transformation Leaders: High-Quality Preservice Preparation.

Considering the impact of school leaders on student achievement, principal preparation programs have a huge responsibility to best prepare individuals to lead our nation’s schools. Yet a recent report by the Wallace Foundation, Improving University Principal Preparation Programs: Five Themes From the Field, indicates there is concern that many university-based programs need curricular redesign and stronger connections to school districts. The panelists on this webinar will discuss the need for reform in principal preparation and examples of quality innovations.

Topics will include—

  • Keeping principal preparation programs current and relevant in today’s world
  • Integrating clinical practice into the curriculum
  • Envisioning ideal partnerships between universities and local school districts
  • Providing ongoing support for graduates
  • Designing principal preparation programs for the future

We will serve as moderators of this discussion with the following presenters:

Tena Versland is program leader for educational leadership at Montana State University. She teaches various courses for principal preparation, including K-12 Instructional Leadership, Supervision of Instruction, and Data and School Improvement. Prior to coming to Montana State in 2012, Versland enjoyed a 30-year career serving rural schools in Montana, 7 years as a K-12 music teacher, 3 years as a high school assistant principal, and 20 years as principal of one of the state’s highest achieving middle schools.


Rebecca L. Nelson is dean of the School of Education at North Park University in Chicago, Illinois. She oversees programs that lead to licensure for teachers and principals as well as endorsement programs in ESL, bilingual, and special education. Nelson also serves on the State Educator Preparation and Licensure Board and is president-elect of the Illinois Association for Colleges of Teacher Education, the state chapter of AACTE. Prior to entering higher education, Nelson was a classroom teacher, principal, and superintendent of schools.


Michelle Young is executive director of the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) and professor of educational leadership at the University of Virginia. UCEA is an international consortium of research institutions with master’s and doctoral-level programs in educational leadership and administration. As executive director of UCEA, Young works with universities, practitioners, professional organizations, and state and national leaders to improve the preparation and practice of school and school system leaders and to develop a dynamic base of knowledge on excellence in educational leadership.


Meanwhile, you can also view the recording of the previous webinar in our series, “Principals as Transformation Leaders: Changing School Cultures,” which was held November 9. Presenters in that discussion shared how principals can impact healthy school cultures. High school principal Kathy Mackay talked about the importance of highlighting key school activities and programs in the community. Offering an elementary perspective, Principal Eileen Mooney Cambria stressed the importance of developing relationships with faculty and staff early in the role, and Principal Steven Droske promoted advancing a school community that works together in teams to approach significant challenges. All three leaders discussed the need for principals to listen to educators’ needs to cultivate a caring culture and the importance of sharing positive school outcomes with the larger community.

We also invite you to mark your calendar for the final webinar in this series: Principals as Transformation Leaders: Support for New Leaders (December 14).


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Donna Cooner

Colorado State University

Wendy Fothergill

Colorado State University

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