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EdLF mentors and interns learn to build leaders during annual school leadership training

Road construction seems to be a constant part of modern life. At this summer’s annual school leadership mentor training conference, the construction-related theme, “bUild: Becoming United In Leader Development,” resonated well with the participants, who even had to go through road construction to get to the conference.

Housed in the McKay School’s Department of Educational Leadership and Foundations, the School Leadership Program holds the annual conference to train its mentor principals and interns in ways to collaboratively develop exceptional leaders. The “bUild” theme emphasized the role each individual plays in constructing educational leaders. The theme encapsulates a purpose of the School Leadership program: to prepare effective school leaders through unified collaboration among individuals within the university and public schools.

"It’s a great renewal for those who have had interns before and a reminder to say what things we may need to improve on in the future."

During the internship, each school leadership candidate is paired with mentor principals who guide the progress. The school leadership training gives the mentors and the interns a chance to meet and establish the foundation for a long-term relationship.

Sara Matis, a seventh-year mentor principal at Westside Elementary, said the annual training helps her build leaders. “Being able to come to the mentor training conference and . . . implement the things that we learn [is] very helpful,” Matis said. “I think it’s a great renewal for those who have had interns before and a reminder to say what things we may need to improve on in the future.”

Garrick Peterson, a former school leadership student and a current mentor principal, said he is a mentor because of the example of his own mentors. “I had three mentors who greatly influenced me and helped shape who I was,” Peterson said. “Some of those things still stay with me, and they perpetuated me into a career where I feel like I make a huge difference in people’s lives every day, and [my mentors] helped me to see that.”

The attendees heard from seasoned mentor principals who presented on the five school leadership mentor standards. The standards provide a guideline for mentors to enhance the experience of their interns. The five mentor standards are listed below.

(1) Provide examples of effective and reflective leadership practices. (2) Be an educational leader who builds and maintains a learning relationship. (3) Foster a trusting relationship that allows the mentee to assume a real leadership role. (4) Demonstrate a passion for continuous learning and helps to instill this passion in the mentee through professional development opportunities. (5) Display emotional maturity as evidenced by personal and professional interactions.

In addition to the valuable training, the students and mentors learned about the internship leadership project (ILP). The ILP, the new format for the administrative internship, will be implemented with the 2012 cohorts. Instead of working from a mere project checklist, the interns will now work with their mentor principals to develop a relevant school improvement project that they will implement in the schools. This structure provides a greater reflective learning opportunity for the interns and a more meaningful, practical internship.

Becky Witt, a student in the Executive School Leadership Track, said the training helped her understand what she should expect from the new internship. “It gave me a big picture about what the internship should be and what my goals should be,” Witt said. “I realized I need to have long- and short-term goals, and it was nice to hear that from the principals.”

The school leadership internship is designed to help prospective principals gain the hands-on experience they need to prepare for their careers. Students who complete the School Leadership Program graduate with a master’s degree in educational leadership and the ability to apply for Utah Administrative Licensure. The internship consists of a minimum of 450 hours of elementary and secondary experience in a district or school setting with a minimum of 200 hours in a school setting.

October 16, 2012