Professional Development for Principals
role of Principal has changed over the last ten years,” explained
Supervising Superintendent Joyce Copin at the New Principals’
Summer Institute, an intense, five-day professional development
program for principals with two years or less of experience, held
recently at the School for the Physical City. “Principals have
to learn a set of new skills,” she continued. They have to be
more focused; they have more demands due to bigger and more diverse
The Institute is one of the ways through which the BOE’s newly-formed
Center for Recruitment and Professional Development provides “ongoing
support” for these new principals, explained the Executive Director,
Mary Butz. The Center was established by the Chancellor in order
to train and retain educators in NYC. Since January, cohorts of
10-12 new principals have been meeting with experienced, ‘distinguished
principals’ to discuss issues and share ideas about the job. “This
model allows us to provide intensive training across the [school]
system,” said Copin.
Until this year’s Institute, there has been no systematic congregation
of NYC principals for the purpose of training and, just as importantly,
networking. The changing role of the principal may account for
only part of the reason why there has been little large-scale
interaction of this kind among principals across district lines.
Another, perhaps more pervasive reason may have to do with fundamental
conceptions of collaboration within the system, said Anne Marie
Carillo, Principal of PS 116 on 33rd street and a ‘Distinguished
Faculty’ at the Institute.
Carillo explained that principals often meet within their districts
to share ideas. Now, with the advent of the Center, Carillo has
a cohort of new principals from all over the city. Through these
cohorts, new principals can visit the distinguished faculty members’
schools and, as is the case in Carillo’s cohort, exchange teachers
have become a fantastic means of support,” said Wildon Rodriguez.
A member of Carillo’s cohort, Rodriguez has been Principal of
PS 38 in Staten Island for two years. For example, the cohort
helped him come up with ideas on how to effectively involve parents
in his school.
The Institute was organized along the lines of the NYC Standards
for School Leaders, a set of guidelines tailored to NYC that articulates
the leadership standards of the Interstate School Leaders Licensure
Consortium that have been adopted in more than 38 states. Through
panel discussions, workshops and talking with fellow principals,
Institute participants learned, among other things, how to incorporate
the arts into their classrooms, how to manage difficult staff
members and how to integrate special education students into mainstream
classes—essentially, how to be better principals.
According to Coppin a successful principal “above all has a sense
of mission.” He or she is able to collaborate and knows the curriculum.
“At the center of being a successful principal is being an instructional
leader,” she said. “That’s what its all about–the teaching of
The enthusiasm that radiated from the principals as they participated
in the workshops, and their rapt attention at the panels was a
sure sign that the time for a large-scale, system-wide professional
development program such as the New Principal’s Summer Institute
was long overdue
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