What is a Principal Preparation Program?
“Becoming a school leader is a calling. You are not just becoming a principal. You are becoming an agent of change.” This powerful opening message at the orientation to Concordia University Chicago’s (CUC) Principal Preparation Program is the vision and mission that makes CUC so unique. It is inextricably woven into every course in the program so that principal-candidates never forget that their first responsibility as a school leader is to serve their students, their faculty, and their community. Having studied, and taught at, Christian schools for most of my life, the term “servant leadership” was new to me, and this perspective has transformed my teaching and elevated my leadership skills.
CUC’s program is specifically designed to help educators become competent and trustworthy leaders who model life-long learning and compassion for their school and their community. Since principals make significant political, social, economic, legal, and cultural impacts on both the micro and macro levels, it is vital that they leave their preparation program understanding the impact of these responsibilities. Concordia graduates become part of a network with a shared commitment to integrity and morality as the cornerstone of leadership. After all, choosing to become a “change-agent” is not just a career shift; it is a conscious decision to become a force for social justice.
What You’ll Learn in a Principal Preparation Certification Program
Through CUC’s curriculum, candidates develop expertise in school law, cultural competency, empathetic collaboration, communication, ethical managerial skills, community outreach, and fiscal responsibility.
School Evaluation & Change
Candidates deep-dive into their current school’s state report card, test scores, diversity, mission, and values. They learn how to mobilize resources, collaborate with stakeholders, and lead the necessary steps for creating a shared and sustainable vision for a positive school climate with high expectations for all students.
Ethics are part of every decision a school leader makes. Candidates explore a variety of methodologies for ethical decision-making and reflect on factors, such as legal rights, restorative justice, and fairness that go into those decisions.
Curriculum & Assessment
Learning should be a journey that does not end with an assessment if the student has not shown proficiency in the topic. After evaluating alignment between standards, curriculum, and assessments at the classroom, district, and state levels, cohort participants develop quality, curriculum-aligned assessments demonstrating an understanding that assessments are for learning rather than just of learning.
Supervision & Evaluation
One of the largest aspects of school leadership is supervising and evaluating faculty. Principals must model research-based, compassionate, and competent approaches to instructional coaching. Candidates apply these skills by creating plans for professional development as well as role-playing simulations of teacher remediation and of clinical supervision.
Principals must manage school and community resources in an ethical way that provides social justice for all stakeholders, including protected classes. Candidates explore their school budgets and examine different fiscally responsible methods of allocating financial resources, human resources, and supplemental resources to maximize student achievement.
School Improvement Plans (SIP) help building leaders determine where to allocate resources. Students reflect on the strengths and weakness of their school to practice creating SMART goals and action plans to improve educator effectiveness and student outcomes.
Federal and state laws, regulations, case law, and constitutional provisions impact students and faculty. As such, administrators must be well versed in these policies. Privacy laws, educational rights laws, and employment laws inform daily decisions as a school leader.
A year-long internship working with a school principal allows candidates to use their research done in previous courses to plan, implement, lead, and assess outcomes of a data-driven, department-wide action plan aligned with their school’s SIP.
Going to graduate school while working full-time may seem like a daunting task, but CUC’s program is accommodating and flexible. Each week I was energized by my in-person collaboration with my cohort.
Advantages of a Principal Certification
One of the best pieces of advice that I was given when considering applying for a Principal Preparation Program was, “Chase the dream; don’t chase the money.” A principal’s certificate can mean a higher salary, but it also opens doors that you didn’t know existed. Your cohort peers and your professors create a professional network that will support you throughout your career.
Furthermore, the opportunities for building leadership positions are not just limited to principalships. Peers from my cohort have become instructional coaches, curriculum coordinators, department chairs, educational consultants, deans, and education specialists.
While I have remained in the classroom, teacher leadership roles in my school were offered to me after I graduated. I am one of three “back-up” administrators in my building when our principals are unavailable. I have also become a union leader, a new-teacher mentor, and a student-teaching coordinating teacher. Perhaps most importantly, though, is that the professional development I gained through the program has improved how I deliver instruction, how I communicate with students and parents, how I design and align my curriculum, as well as how I interact with colleagues.
No matter which path you choose after graduating, you will have a broader, systems-based view of education, which you will share with and model for other educators. Inevitably, the ripple effect of your new perspective will extend far beyond you.
Are you an educator ready to step into a leadership role? Check out our Principal Preparation Program here and enroll today!