MNPS Principal Mentoring Program Aims To Improve Achievement
by Aundrea Cline-Thomas
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Some of Metro Nashville Public Schools' best principals have been overseeing the progress of 55 other schools. As mentors of other principals, the pressure intensifies to increase achievement.
They're called LEAD Principals. They take on more responsibility with a small financial incentive and a little extra support - all in hopes of getting more struggling students on grade level.
Glencliff High School Principal Clint Wilson said his school has improved with the program.
"We went from 40 percent proficient and advanced in algebra to 66 (percent) in one year," Wilson said.
McGavock High School Principal Robbin Wall said among the greatest concerns was high school readiness.
"I've got concerns about the last few years when I see those 8th graders coming to 9th grade," Wall said. "Are they really ready for high school?"
Wall and Wilson were part of the cohort of LEAD principals. Each one has been chosen to mentor four or five other principals.
"I'm getting to be the LEAD principal for the four middle school principals that feed into my school," said Wall. "You can see how important it is for me to make sure things are being done there as well as they can be - because it's going to benefit me in the end."
The LEAD principals share ideas, make regular school visits and have to show continued progress at their own schools. Wilson said it was a time-consuming responsibility.
"I still do announcements every morning so kids, teachers don't know if I'm there or not," Wilson said. "I may do announcements and go to Maplewood or Stratford and come back."
Officials with Metro Schools hoped to add 5 to 8 LEAD principals next year, with 10 more the year after.
"Within three years the schools will be completely, 100 percent led by school based leaders," said Dr. Jay Steele, Associate Superintendent of High Schools.
The goal was to increase student achievement with the help of peers who already work in the schools every day.
"Glencliff's had a lot of success the last couple of years," Wilson said. "If I can take that to some other schools and help them implement some of the things we've done then I'm impacting more kids in Nashville."
The LEAD principals have been given more autonomy at their own schools - something the district has been criticized for not doing. It means those principals have more control over how their school is run with less interference from the central office.