How Aspiring Principals are Selected

  • Aspiring school leaders (teachers on special assignment, coaches, assistant principals, or other school administrators) are encouraged to apply to become Aspiring Principals.

  • Interested candidates submit an online application packet as well as a letter of recommendation from their supervising principal, and a signed superintendent or charter holder approval form. Applications are due April 17th.

  • MCESA's selection committee screens all application packets in April and will notify candidates eligible for the next phase of the selection process. Interviews and group performance tasks will be conducted with qualified candidates the first week of May. Selected Aspiring Principals will be notified by May 8th.

  • Aspiring Principals will participate in a professional learning experience designed to equip them for the principalship. They will participate in a two-week summer intensive, June 12th-23rd as well as seminars scheduled throughout the next year. Aspiring Principals are grouped with two principal mentors (their home school principal and a Rodel Exemplary Principal) who will guide them in developing skills and competencies during the residency program.

  • Aspiring Principals will be recognized in a press release, and all candidates will be notified by May 15th.

Professional Learning

LOGS: Each Aspiring Principal will be asked to maintain a log of the work they do outside of the Professional Learning Seminars. The logs are turned in for review twice a year. Aspiring Principals will receive feedback on their log. 

CAPSTONE PROJECT: Each Aspiring Principal will be asked to lead a change initiative which will benefit the students at their site. Their project must be approved by their site principal (if necessary), school district administration, and MCESA. The project should address a specific need at the school and last for a minimum of one semester. The capstone project should be developed with the belief the change will be sustained at the school. This means each Aspiring Principal will be responsible for developing the project, identifying and gathering necessary resources, developing an assessment for the project, and ensuring the project can be supported in the long term.

Aspiring Principals are encouraged to work with their mentor principal in developing their capstone project. They are encouraged to reach out to MCESA for assistance in identifying additional Exemplary Principals with specific skills and/or experience in the area of capstone. 

The Principal Initiative provides the opportunity to learn the systems necessary for school-wide success from highly effective practicing administrators. This occurs in professional learning seminars as well as in Exemplary Principals’ schools.

Aspiring Principals are required to attend all training seminars. 


Perceptions of Aspiring Principals

The Perceptions of Aspiring Principals Participating in the  Exemplary Principal Initiative

By Edy LaShelle Schlosser

A Dissertation submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, Northern Arizona University

Tell me what has the Exemplary Principal Initiative experience meant to you? What has it contributed to your development as educators over the past 2 years?

  • “Has provided an opportunity to network with quality educators”
  • “Has allowed me to grow within the education profession”
  • “People get out of [it] what they put into it. They have the best of the best of educational leaders”
  • “Has been the greatest professional development experience of my career”

How did you all develop trust within the mentor/mentee relationship? Did it come blindly or did it take a while? When this question was asked, participants shared the following perceptions regarding the development of trust between mentor and mentees:

  • “The trust happened quickly and came blindly”
  • “Knowing that my mentor was an Exemplary Principal helped me trust sooner”
  • “Once the trust was built and relationship was established, I knew that I could use my mentor as a resource and depend on them”
  • “The seminar sessions in year one, helped me to build the bridge and trust with my mentor”

What are the benefits of mentoring from your perspectives? When this question was asked, participants shared the following perceptions regarding the benefits of mentoring:

  • “Networking with concrete, specific example. I have called my mentor and asked ‘What do you do?”
  • “Reassurance, guidance, and advice. Knowing that my mentor supports me and me knowing that I am not crazy”
  • “The support, growth, and self-development as an Aspiring Principal and new administrator”
  • “Knowing that you can trust someone and know that you have someone to guide you. . .”
  • “Helpful to have an outside perspective because when are you in a school district you sometimes get tunnel vision. It’s nice to hear from someone outside of your district, who is not in the same daily grind as you are. . .”

Do you believe that you are prepared to lead your own school or take on the role as an assistant principal now that you are almost done with the program? Why or why not? When this question was asked, participants shared the following perceptions regarding their preparation as educational leaders:

  • “Definitely! I am implementing what I learn in the seminar sessions and taking it back to my school”
  • “Seminars give us tools that we can use. Specifically, the Collaborative School and Community [seminar]. Also the day we did the headband game, I took that back to my staff and did it in a staff meeting and told them that they could utilize it in their own class”
  • “ . . .I have used the skills that I gained to help build my master and classroom teachers. I take back what I learn and pass it on”
  • “I believe that this program has been significant in my preparation as an assistant principal. What I learned at ASU in my Master’s classes doesn’t compare to the hands-on and practical knowledge I have gained by being an Aspiring Principal.”

How did your mentor help you learn about educational leadership? When this question was asked, participants shared the following perceptions regarding how their mentor helped them learn about educational leadership: 

  • “99% of what we do is communication and using our communication skills. My mentor focused on always starting with a positive and listening. She helped me to refine my communication skills on all levels- verbally and through emails”
  • “My mentor gave us scenarios of real situations that occurred at their school and have us work through them”
  • “I was able to observe my mentor in their school setting and apply what I saw at my own school, especially the modeled behavior of building relationships”
  • “I was given lots of feedback and advice on problems that I presented to my mentor. She would walk me through how she would handle it and then give me the opportunity to say how I think I should handle it based off of her feedback. It was a very reflective process for problem solving.”

The Aspiring Principals found the program to be beneficial from many different aspects, but mostly in the area of support and networking. Many of the focus group participants shared that the mentoring component of the program was most beneficial to their development as educational leaders.