School administration interns and mentor principals met in BYU’s Hinckley Center on Wednesday, July 8, to learn ways to create more meaningful internship experiences for both mentors and mentees.
Hosted by the McKay School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Foundations (EDLF), the event offered a chance for interns and mentors to learn from their peers as they discussed improving training for future administrators. The event is held once during the school year and once during the summer each year.
The first speaker, Taran Chun, principal of Mountain View High School in Orem, Utah, explained the importance of defining the roles of the mentor and the intern in common terms to establish consistent expectations.
Chun established a “common lens” among the participants by asking them to share their thoughts on what makes a mentor or intern effective. Many participants said effective mentors show interns how to face possible challenges and help them establish a network within the school. They also said an effective intern has a positive attitude and a desire to learn as much as possible.
The second speaker was Kim Baker, principal of Copper Mountain Middle School in Herriman, Utah, who had faced the challenges of opening a new school. She recounted her experiences as she built a positive environment in the new school through deliberate, intentional action, emphasizing how new administrators can be a part of the good environment.
“Every day I think of these two things: I want high-quality instruction in my building, and I want an amazing culture,” Baker said. “Intentional conversations make the climate amazing in your building.”
Baker was followed by her assistant principals, Connie Bailey and Mike Hutchins. Bailey emphasized the need for building quality relationships with teachers, parents, and students in the school. Hutchins, who had been appointed to the assistant principal position the previous week, promised interns that their internships would make significant differences, referring to his own internship experience as “essential.”
During his segment, Mark Whitaker, principal of Mountain Ridge Junior High School in Highland, Utah, provided examples of administrative situations that occur in schools and had participants discuss how they should be handled. The scenarios included crucial questions, such as “How can mentors effectively help interns build relationships with both sides of a situation when there are strong opposing views?”
David Boren, director of the School Leadership Program in the EDLF Department, highlighted the benefits of mentoring for the mentor, the intern, and the school. The school and the current administrators benefit from the intern’s new ideas and enthusiasm, and the interns learn and grow personally from their experiences.
Boren also provided a list of helpful tips and potential pitfalls for mentors and interns. For mentors, these included giving prompt feedback and avoiding the tendency to overwhelm their interns. For interns, these included asking questions when unsure and avoiding school gossip.
All the speakers reaffirmed the necessity of preparing quality school leaders. “An effective principal does more to move an entire school forward than any other person,” Chun said.
Writer: Kirsten Clancy
Contact: Cynthia Glad (801) 422-1922