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UCPS is ‘growing leaders’ through assistant principal training

The cohort of assistant principals in the Growing Leaders program are pictured, (seated, from left) Marcus Leake (Weddington Middle), Angela Foster (Monroe Middle), Chris Horne (Parkwood High), Dwight Thompson (Sun Valley Elementary), and Michael Murray (Cuthbertson Middle). (Standing, from left) Michelle Gray (East Union Middle), Tracy Strickland (Piedmont High), Keitha Rodden (Rock Rest Elementary), Jalonda Polk (East Elementary), and Stephanie Burris (Hemby Bridge Elementary). Nicole Phelix (Wingate Elementary) is not pictured.

About a dozen Union County Public Schools assistant principals have been chosen to tweak their leadership skills through a professional development training called Growing Leaders.

The class, which meets monthly, discusses everything from leadership in theory and practice, to how to help teachers become more effective. The class, for example, looks at characteristics of a successful school, what makes a strong teacher and how to handle various human resources issues.

Sam Basden, director of support services 6-12, and one of the organizers of the program, said UCPS has been growing its own leaders for many years, but this program goes a step further.

“We were already doing it, this is just a way of formalizing the curriculum and trying to create a common-shared experience,” Basden said. “When we admitted them in this program, we knew they had the skills to be a principal, but we hope that when they complete the program they will know how to use those skills to be a principal.”

Those chosen to participate in the class are already considered knowledgeable leaders, but the training’s goal is to fine-tune those skills.

“We have a pool of assistant principals who have demonstrated a high level of proficiency and mastery at the assistant principal level, so as part of their personal and professional development, we are offering this program to help them grow beyond the assistant principalship,” Basden said.

In order to participate in the “Growing Leaders” program, one has to be nominated and then chosen. Each participant is then assigned a mentor and meets with that mentor twice a month.

Parkwood High School Assistant Principal Chris Horne said he appreciates the support the class has given him.

“By building relationships and shared knowledge from the leaders who have experienced the path to success, I am not alone,” Horne said. “My fellow Growing Leaders cohort and instructors are there to provide insight and support as I continue to grow as an educational leader.”

Horne said the experience is making him a stronger leader. “I am becoming a better administrator by gleaning knowledge, wisdom and experience from the best. The ability to work closely with fellow administrators develops bonds for the common goal of success for all students.”

Participants in the class are Michelle Gray (East Union Middle), Tracy Strickland (Piedmont High), Keitha Rodden (Rock Rest Elementary), Jalonda Polk (East Elementary), Stephanie Burris (Hemby Bridge Elementary), Marcus Leake (Weddington Middle), Angela Foster (Monroe Middle), Chris Horne (Parkwood High), Dwight Thompson (Sun Valley Elementary), Michael Murray (Cuthbertson Middle) and Nicole Phelix (Wingate Elementary).

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Jan 29, 2015 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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