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What Do School Districts Need in Their Principal Pipelines?

Listen to Episode 2 of Preparing and Sustaining School Principals 

AACTE’s newest podcast, AACTE PRESENTS: Preparing & Sustaining School Principals, shines a spotlight on the unsung heroes of schools and universities – our principals and the people who make them. As the leading voice in educator preparation, we engage in candid conversations with researchers, faculty, practitioners, and scholars to explore what makes an effective PK-12 school leader and how to prepare them. 

In this episode, we delve into principal pipelines, a key factor in ensuring schools are staffed with collaborative, effective leadership. Building on insights from Wallace’s Principal Pipeline Learning Community in 2019, where 84 school districts collaborated, this episode’s guests explore the approaches, opportunities, and challenges identified in the latest Wallace knowledge, a Principal Pipeline Sustainability Guide developed by Policy Study Associates.  

Our focus shifts to districts often overlooked, as we connect with Traci Gile, assistant superintendent of schools in Poudre School District, a mixed district. Traci discusses the diverse demographics within her district, encompassing city center schools, suburban settings, and highly rural mountain schools, each presenting unique challenges for school leaders. 

Gile emphasizes the evolving role of principals, extending beyond instructional leadership to crisis management in the face of wildfires, floods, and other life-threatening events. Addressing principal turnover, Gile advocates for strategic leadership, prioritizing the principal’s time, and recognizing potential leaders early on to prevent burnout. 

The episode also explores successful initiatives, such as Poudre School District’s aspiring administrator program, nurturing future leaders, and reducing turnover. Gile also highlights the importance of mentorship and structured coaching sessions to support new principals and foster a sense of efficacy. 

In a conversation with Dan Melendrez, superintendent of a rural school district, we gain insights into the challenges and rewards of leading in a small rural school district, where wearing multiple hats is the norm. The podcast concludes with a call for collaboration, innovative solutions, and community engagement to address challenges, create effective principal pipelines, and ensure a strong foundation for schools and students. 

Listen to Episode 2 now and visit aacte.org for more podcast episodes covering principal preparation.   

Traci Gile  

Traci Gile, Ph.D., is currently the assistant superintendent of schools in the Poudre School District (PSD) of Colorado. As the assistant superintendent, she was a leader on the PSD Learning Services team, consisting of seven district departments. She also developed high-quality educational opportunities for PK-12 students and supervised leaders of PSD’s 30 elementary schools and the PSD Early Childhood Education program. Gile was previously the principal at Lopez Elementary for eight years. During her time there, she collaborated with school staff to become Colorado’s first Leader in Me Lighthouse School. She also championed student leadership and student-led community service projects.  

Dan Melendrez  

Daniel Melendrez is the superintendent of the Genoa-Hugo School District in Hugo, CO.  He has more than 20 years in education and 11 years of administrative experience at both middle and high school.  His leadership style is team-oriented, worldly, innovative, and hardworking with a “think-outside-the-box” mentality.  He is dedicated to his district’s “we are in this together” culture that creates a safe and positive environment for students and staff loaded with quality educational opportunities.   

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