26 aspiring principals will complete a year of training in school leadership by working with the architects of the professional learning community process, Rick and Becky DuFour, on Thursday. The meeting will be held from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. in the Ruth S. Holmberg Leadership Center at the Public Education Foundation, 100 East 10th St., 3rd floor.
The DuFours are nationally-renowned practitioners, authors, and consultants who have achieved success in assisting educators as they create the structures and cultures in schools to ensure more students learn at higher levels and to close achievement gaps.
Rick DuFour served as principal of Adlai Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Il., from 1983 to 1991 and as superintendent of the district from 1991 to 2002. During his tenure, Stevenson became what the United States Department of Education has described as “the most recognized and celebrated school in America.”
Stevenson has been repeatedly cited as one of America’s best schools and referenced in professional literature as an exemplar of best practices in education.
Becky DuFour has served as a teacher, central office administrator, and principal of a school that has earned state and national recognition as a model professional learning community.
The Professional Learning Community concept is based on three Big Ideas:
1. The fundamental purpose of school is to help all students learn at high levels.
2. Schools cannot achieve this purpose if educators work in isolation. Educators must create a collaborative culture characterized by a coordinated and collective responsibility for student success.
3. Gathering evidence of student learning on an ongoing basis is essential to student success and to informing and improving the professional practice of educators who serve them.
The DuFours will help participants examine the role of principals in leading the PLC process.
During the 2009-10 school year, aspiring principals have been working in two groups, one an elementary group of ten, and the other a secondary group of 16.
The elementary group has been led by Susan Swanson, HCDE director of the Benwood Initiative, and Clara Sale-Davis, PEF director of the Benwood Initiative, with funding provided by the Benwood Foundation.
The secondary group has been led by James Colbert, HCDE assistant superintendent for Campus Operations, and Bill Kennedy, PEF director of Secondary School Initiatives, with funding provided by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and Electric Motor Sales & Supply, Inc.
Areas of study have included leadership and decision making; researching and understanding best practices to improve instruction; budget development and appropriate use of funds; understanding of data and the development of programs based on data; media relations; building community partnerships; personnel management and the evaluation process; and other relevant topics.
This year has been a “bridge year” as HCDE, PEF and two additional partners, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, have been working to develop a full-scale Principal Leadership Academy that will provide more intensive training, mentoring and support to assistant principals interested in moving into a principal’s role.
Participants for the 2010-11 Principal Leadership Academy will be chosen this month, and will begin their training in July.