The Upper Valley Educators Institute's principal function is to attract into the profession individuals with maturity, a strong academic background, breadth of experience, leadership potential, and a commitment to a transformative model of leading for learning. UVEI principal interns bring special qualifications to the program and leave as beginning school leaders with a year of experience in the principal's office.
HISTORY. UVEI (formally the Upper Valley Teachers Institute) was established more than forty years ago to meet regional needs for well-qualified teachers in a non-degree, competency environment. In 2007/08, UVEI collaborated with The Principal Residency Network through a licensing agreement that enabled us to adapt their materials to provide aspiring school leaders an opportunity to pursue principal certification in a similar non-degree, competency-based program. During 2008, in response to initiatives generated by the NH Vision for Redesign and the VT Initiative for Secondary School Transformation, UVEI revamped its principal internship program to better reflect the priorities of both states with respect to leadership development, while more closely aligning its principal internship with its renowned teacher internship model.
Our approach to leadership is influenced by such visionaries as Deborah Meier, who has pioneered schools based upon five essential "habits of mind,"1 Ted Sizer, whose ten "common principles" bespeak a radically new approach to school organization2, and Tony Wagner, whose "seven survival skills for teens today" draws from the highest expectations of teachers and creative business leaders the world over for active, thoughtful, dynamic learning.3 UVEI is ready to nurture a new generation of school leaders who learn the craft of school management by working directly with experienced principals, but who are preparing themselves for new roles in keeping with the dynamic changes our elementary and secondary schools will encounter. Meier and Wagner serve on the UVEI Advisory Council and continue to contribute to our thinking on these issues.
INTERNS. Each year the Upper Valley Educators Institute accepts up to twenty interns. All have at least a bachelor's degree (many have earned advanced degrees), plus three or more years experience as a K-12 educator.
What UVEI principal interns have in common is the determination to become transformational leaders and the desire for the most rigorous practical training. Before admission they have a lengthy interview with program staff. They discuss their reasons for seeking a leadership role, their expectations about school leadership, and interests they bring to the school community. An important part of the admission process is selecting a compatible intern mentor for each intern. While most principal interns choose to work with a mentor in the school district where they are already working, they may interview principals in other schools/districts if they have the flexibility to consider placement in a school other than their own, with the aim of finding a mutually acceptable match.
CALENDAR. Principal interns begin to work during July, ahead of our program orientation occurring in mid-August. The program ends in June, at the conclusion of the academic year in the school where they're working. During the 42-week program, Principal interns assist their intern mentors on a daily basis. Both intern and mentor attend a full-day, monthly regional team meeting.
Principal interns also attend a series of daylong workshops on one Saturday a month. They are expected to go on site visits to other schools and to attend state or regional conferences that focus on school transformation issues.
THE INTERNSHIP. Principal Interns spend the school year working with the Principal Mentor and other members of the administrative team. As a member of that team, the Intern's administrative responsibilities expand gradually and deliberately. They work with department or grade level teams, observe and evaluate teachers, participate on school improvement teams, handle student issues, attend parent conferences, collaborate with parents and community agencies, attend school-based/district level administrator and school board meetings, serve as the LEA at special education meetings, monitor activities before/after school, and otherwise experience the work of a principal and the realities of the principal's world.
COHORT MEETINGS. The monthly cohort meetings are aimed at the art and craft of leadership in the 21st Century, creating and effecting school transformation, instructional leadership for a learning community, the ideals and ethics in a transformative learning community, and other topics of leadership education.
WORKSHOPS. The monthly Saturday workshop series develops in-depth content knowledge and skills. Workshops target core topics that prepare the principal intern in specific areas required of a school leader, such as budget and finance, supervision and evaluation, special education, diversity, multiculturalism and urban school challenges, school law and ethics, curriculum, instruction and assessment, and student discipline.
1. See The Power of Their Ideas (1995) and In Schools We Trust (2002) both published by Beacon Press.
2. See Horace's Compromise (1984), Horace's School (1992), and Horace's Hope (1997).
3. Tony Wagner, op.cit.