The Upper Valley Educators Institute’s principal function is to attract into the profession individuals with leadership potential, a strong academic background, breadth of experience, 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.
The UVEI model differs from most university graduate programs in education. Believing that school leadership is an art best learned through practice, UVEI’s Principal Internship Program involves day-to-day involvement in administrative work with the mentor who has been selected in consort with the intern and UVEI faculty. Our mentors come from among the best professionals in the region. While our focus is mainly on the pragmatic aspects of leadership, interns are required to develop a well-defined vision of how a great school operates, and to conduct a school change project that involves a broad constituency of the the school and community. By the end of the program, graduates have studied and have had administrative experiences in most of the topics traditionally addressed by the syllabi of more conventional administrative certification programs.
Fifteen individuals graduated from the program in June 2017, representing a completion rate of 100 percent. Many are in administrative positions and several are classroom teachers with additional administrative duties. On average (Classes of 2014-2016), 86.74% of our graduating alumni were placed in leadership positions within a year of graduation.
UVEI was established more than forty years ago to meet regional needs for well-qualified teachers in a non-degree, competency-based environment. In 2009, the Principal Internship Program was established, applying the same pedagogy and philosophy that made the UVEI Teacher Internship Program a model for the preparation of educators.
The Upper Valley Educators Institute is an accredited, independent, non-profit school of education. UVEI is accredited by the American Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) and our Principal Internship Program is approved by the New Hampshire and Vermont Departments of Education as a pathway to licensure.
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). Applicants to the UVEI Principal Internship Program must have three years’ teaching experience in Vermont or five years’ teaching experience in New Hampshire, along with a master’s degree. (Please refer to licensure requirements for the definition of “teaching experience” in each state. This information can be found on each state’s education department website.) Through a partnership with the Upper Valley Graduate School of Education (UVGSE), principal interns may earn a Master of Education in School Leadership degree during the time they are enrolled in the internship program, or after. For more information, please visit www.uvgse.org
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 a member of the Principal Program faculty. 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 mentor for each intern. While most 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.
Interns begin to work on reading assignments in July, ahead of the 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. Interns and mentors attend a full-day, monthly cohort meeting. Interns also attend an additional cohort meeting one Saturday a month, visit other schools, and often attend state or regional conferences that focus on school transformation issues.
Principal interns spend the school year working with their 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 function as a principal when building administrators are absent. The program thus introduces interns to the realities of the principalship.
The monthly cohort meetings provide an opportunity for interns and mentors to discuss the issues and dilemmas they face in their daily work as school leaders. In a trusting, collegial environment, veteran and emerging leaders learn together as they grapple with the complexity of school leadership. Faculty design discussion formats that help participants reflect deeply on their practice. Interns and mentors are encouraged to contribute items of interest for each month’s agenda. Cohort meetings are held at our campus in Lebanon. Read about one recent principal intern and the connection between the cohort meetings and his internship in this article, Synchronicity.
This specialization leads to a Director of Curriculum license in Vermont and may be taken while in the internship program or afterwards, as a graduate. For more information, click here.