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New Webinar Series to Discuss Principals’ Transforming Roles, Preparation

This fall, AACTE will present a new webinar series called “Principals as Transformation Leaders,” supported by The Wallace Foundation as part of the Association’s ongoing partnership to disseminate the latest research and practice innovations in principal preparation. As faculty working with current and aspiring principals in Colorado, we are excited to serve as moderators for these webinars. If you are involved in school leadership, either as a practicing administrator or as a university faculty member, please join us!

The first webinar, titled Principals as Transformation Leaders: Changing Roles and Responsibilities, will be held October 12 at 3:00 p.m. EDT. Transformation leaders identify needs and empower stakeholders to implement positive change to maximize the desired results. They are visionary, resourceful, and adaptable – qualities that are especially valuable in today’s educational environment, where the roles and responsibilities of a principal are changing drastically in any typical day. This webinar will explore these changes and how they impact the day-to-day work of a principal. Learn about proactive ways to support new principals in their challenging role from our panelists:

Rhonda Richer, consultant and longtime principal – Richer has been an educator for 36 years. She began her career as an elementary and middle school teacher before becoming an elementary principal, a role in which she served for 25 years in a variety of PK-5 settings. Following her retirement in 2012, Richer initiated a Parents As Teachers Program to provide parent education and home visits to parents of children from birth to 5 years of age. She continues to mentor principals and teacher new to the profession. She also provides consultation and interim leadership for schools in need.

Michael Jones, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Littleton Public Schools (CO) – Jones is beginning his 32nd year in public education, during which his roles have included elementary principal, human resources director, and assistant superintendent. Known for leading schools in a collaborative manner that helps students achieve their highest potential, Jones has been recognized by People Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul, and several media outlets for innovative programs that involved children, parents, and teachers. In his current role, he assists school and district leadership as they navigate the instructional, personnel, and political issues that they face on daily basis.

Rob Reetz, Principal, Chippewa Middle School (MN) – Reetz is in his 3rd year as principal at Chippewa Middle School, which is located 10 miles north of Minneapolis/St. Paul. His yearlong preparation for the principalship came with a challenge to develop a vision for learning centered on science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math (STEAM). In response, Reetz articulated a plan focused on igniting students’ aspirations, not by increasing engagement, but by tearing the ceiling off it. By identifying and partnering with key teacher leaders, Reetz empowered others to turn vision into action. The results 2 years later are an instructional model centered on problem- and product-based learning. Utilizing the iterative process of Design Thinking, 1,100 students in grades 6-8 are creating products and solutions using a variety of exciting new tools including laser cutters, blade cutters, 3D printers, video drones, and 360-degree virtual reality cameras. Chippewa has adopted 10 key interdisciplinary learning outcomes and has embraced frequent student-led learning experiences that offer students input on what is learned, how learning is demonstrated, a timeline for the learning, and with whom students may collaborate. Reetz and teacher leaders also created and implemented a "positive performance intervention system" that would develop and recognize students for demonstrating key habits of mind. Known as “iCREATE,” the system captures the habits students develop over their 3 years at Chippewa: effective Collaboration, frequent Reflection, remaining Engaged, Advocacy for what they need, flexible and optimistic Thinking, and Exploration.

Subsequent webinars in this series will explore the unique leadership challenges posed by specific settings (e.g., rural, urban, alternative); structures and strategies to positively implement change; and adaptations universities are implementing in preparation programs to fit current leadership needs. Mark your calendars and sign up now for the following dates:

October 26 at 3:00 EDT – Principals as Transformation Leaders: Serving Urban, Rural, and Alternative Settings

November 9 at 3:00 EST – Principals as Transformation Leaders: Changing School Cultures

November 30 at 3:00 EST – Principals as Transformation Leaders: High-Quality Preservice Preparation

Donna Cooner is a professor at Colorado State University. Wendy Fothergill is assistant professor and coordinator of principal licensure at Colorado State University.

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Donna Cooner

Colorado State University

Wendy Fothergill

Colorado State University