Purpose and Participants
The Principals' Academy is a four-year program of study, established in 2002, to enhance mid-career development of principals in the BYU–Public School Partnership schools. The focus of this work is to help administrators develop professional learning community environments in their schools in which teachers in grade-level or departmental teams work together to develop common curriculum and assessments, examine data, and collaborate on determining and implementing best practices.
Year one. During the their first year of participation, groups of principals participate in discussions, presentations by experts, and collaborative activity centred around elements and developmental processes involved with professional learning communities (PLCs). Principals learn about PLCs by participating in a PLC; thus they experience the benefits and possible frustrations as they are being instructed about them.
Year two. During their second year, principals continue their learning/doing experience and add a third dimension: They begin implementing PLCs into their own schools.
Years three and four. After two years of learning about and participating in learning communities, principals proceed into full implementation of learning communities throughout their schools. Dr. Joseph Matthews (pictured above on the left), co-founder and current co-director of Principals' Academy, has commented, "When they attend training after the second year, principals are able to share problems with each other and solve some of their issues with implementation."
Thus principals emerge into collaborative professional learning communities. Thus far participants have been strong and enthusiastic advocates/supporters for this important strategy for discerning and meeting student needs.