Research-to-Practice Spotlight: Partnering for Principal Preparation
A new video is now available in the Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series, part of AACTE’s Innovation Exchange. Kicking off a series focused on building partnerships for clinical preparation, this first video presents an interview with Jennifer Roth, who is both a doctoral candidate in principal leadership at Colorado State University and assistant principal at nearby Fort Collins High School. This blog highlights Roth’s experiences shared in the interview, which was conducted by AACTE with support from the Wallace Foundation.
Jennifer Roth’s principal leadership journey began more than a decade ago, when she was a teacher at Fort Collins High School and wanted to step up her work developing educator interns from Colorado State University (CSU). To do so, she completed a master’s degree for principal licensure at CSU, after which she became assistant principal at Fort Collins. This move allowed her to co-instruct CSU’s school-based course for interns, have a greater impact on future educators, and jump-start her own leadership trajectory.
Reflecting on the clinical nature of her principal preparation program, Roth says she valued its emphasis on relationship building and on bridging theory and practice, the rigorous curriculum, the active engagement of instructors in the field, and the immediate application of lessons to her current job. Further, her own recent participation in the program allows her to engage in unique interactions with new principal interns around their shared preparation experiences.
She points out that the benefits of clinical practice extend beyond giving the interns authentic, hands-on experience. The interns also serve as a valuable on-site source of fresh ideas, energy, and renewal for the current administrative team, whose members welcome the interns as fellow administrators with valuable lessons to contribute.
Roth credits the program for providing strong candidate support that leads to successful new principals. Not only does the host school’s administrative team offer tremendous support, but CSU’s cohort model provides candidates the invaluable opportunity to mutually support each other. Applying theoretical course work immediately in an authentic context was also crucial to Roth’s development as a principal leader, she said.
Now, Roth’s professional trajectory has evolved further, as she is pursuing (and has nearly completed) a doctoral degree through CSU’s new Ph.D. program in school leadership. Meanwhile, she enjoys giving back to the profession as an active leader in developing the next wave of principal leaders from CSU. She also values being able to offer opportunities for teachers to serve as leaders in her building without taking an administrative route. Through encouragement, the creation of new roles, and supporting teachers to serve as professional development leaders—coupled with a strong partnership with the university—Fort Collins High School is home to a vibrant faculty and staff committed to providing quality educators to meet the needs of their students.
Stay tuned for additional installments in the Research-to-Practice Spotlight!
Christine DeGregory is a graduate student at George Mason University (VA) and a recent AACTE intern.