Indiana State University Newsroom

Indiana Principal Leadership Institute welcomes third cohort at seminar

July 20, 2015

Educating future leaders takes a group effort like the force behind the Indiana Principal Leadership Institute, which brought dozens of school teachers and administrators together for the annual Summer Seminar at Indiana State University.

The institute welcomed 63 new principals into Cohort 3. They will receive support of 11 Indiana school administrators who will serve as mentors.

"Being a building principal can be isolating, but (the Indiana Principal Leadership Institute) helps grow a principal's network and allows principals to work with each other for the benefit of the students we educate," said Kristie Sweeney, a member of Cohort 3 who has been an administrator for 11 years and heads the Southeast Neighborhood School of Excellence Charter School in Indianapolis.

The institute was created with bipartisan support by the Indiana General Assembly in 2013 and housed at Indiana State's Bayh College of Education Dean Kandi Hill-Clarke urged the participants to use the opportunities presented to them through the institute "to learn and grow" in their profession.

The institute is a two-year experience that addresses the professional needs of Indiana public school principals with an emphasis on student success by focusing the first year on leadership. A principal's second year is dedicated to engaging their staff in what they've learned.

During their time with the institute, principals develop and implement personal and school improvement plans, facilitate action research projects designed to improve their school, and build a network of principals who serve as support during and beyond the institute experience.

"We know now more than ever that education makes a profound difference in a kid's life," said Mike Schmoker, a former school administrator, teacher and coach who was the 2014 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Secondary School Principals. In his address at the institute, he stressed the importance of integrating effective reading and writing practices into the curriculum in order to get students prepared for life beyond school.

Bainbridge Elementary Principal Rodney Simpson, who has been a principal for nine years and is in his second year of the institute, was looking to the seminar for leadership lessons as he starts his second year as principal in a new school building.

"I want to do everything I can to help improve the building," said Simpson, who invited Bainbridge Elementary fourth-grade teacher Staci Parent to the seminar to learn and help him spread the message to their school."Changing the operations of a school building can have a big impact on the education of our students," Parent said. "By coming to the seminar, I can be a support network for my principal, as we work toward bringing the most purposefully learning techniques to our students' classrooms."

As ideas from the seminar are implemented, it will be important for the principals and teachers to share the improvements and successes their schools achieve by embracing technology to share their stories with a wider audience through social media.

"(Social media) is not going away so you, as principals, need to do the modeling and advocating for your teachers to go out and learn about it," said Amber Teamann, an elementary school principal in Texas and presenter at the seminar.

"Relationships, culture, community, emotions and kids - that's what identity is all about," added Tony Sinanis, lead learner at Cantiague Elementary School in Jericho, N.Y., which was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2012. "You have to create a space that people can identify with in a positive way. There are few positive stories out there about education, so it's our job as educators to highlight and celebrate the great things we do. When only the kids and teachers in your building know about the great stuff you're doing, it's a disservice to the community."

Media contact: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or - Todd Whitaker, professor of educational leadership in the Bayh College of Education, speaks to the attendees of the 2015 Indiana Principal Leadership Institute Summer Seminar at Indiana State University. - Indiana Principal Leadership Institute participants talk during the Summer Seminar held at Indiana State University. - Linda Marrs-Morford, director of the Indiana Principal Leadership Institute, addresses attendees at the annual Summer Seminar at Indiana State University.