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Six Aspiring Principals Will Test Their Wings in KSC Program

KEENE, N.H. 6/28/01 - The school year is about to begin for a group of aspiring principals in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts. The particpants are part of a new principal residency program being coordinated by Keene State College. The program, created by the Big Picture Company from Providence, R.I., comprises a 12-month internship designed to provide practical experience and certification for prospective principals. Keene State is the first college in the country to be selected by the Big Picture Company to host the residency program.

The program is being directed by Thomas McGuire, a KSC education faculty member and former principal of Westminster Center School in Vermont, and John Couture, assistant professor of education at KSC. “If you ask principals what the hardest part of their career was,” says McGuire, “they say their first year. In this program, aspiring principals will spend their first year on the job working with an experienced principal, who will help them navigate through the issues and problems new principals face.”

The aspiring principals have been paired with established, distinguished principals and will work with their mentors for a year. Aspiring principals will learn about the demands of principalship, including human resources, law, finance, and organizational management, attending all meetings and conferences, and handling school issues that arise on a day-to-day basis.

The aim of the program is to counter the increasing shortage of public school principals in the region. Starting July 1, six aspiring principals will begin their internship with these distinguished principals and schools are: Rick Nannicelli of Greatbrook School in Antrim, N.H.; Mike Freil, Guilford School, Guilford, Vt.; Jeff Place, People’s Academy, Morrisville, Vt.; Dorinne Dorfman, People’s Academy, Morrisville, Vt.; Nancy Mohr, Sharon Academy, Sharon, Vt.; and Stephen Smachetti, Sullivan Elementary School, North Adams, Mass.

Assessment and certification will be based on a portfolio that each aspiring principal is required to produce over the year, explains McGuire. This portfolio will demonstrate the areas mastered and the areas needed to work on. During the year, the aspiring principals will meet at KSC eight times to discuss their portfolios and to identify areas to work on.

Funding for the first year of the program is being sought from education foundations. However, McGuire hopes that school districts will also view the program as an investment in excellence. Ideally, he said, districts will search among their employees for potential principals and offer these people a paid sabbatical, possibly in the form of a scholarship, to attend the Principal Residency program.

The Big Picture Company founded the Principal Residency Network in 1998. To deliver the program, the BPC has formed partnerships with non-profit agencies in Rhode Island, in Boston, and most recently with Keene State College.

For more information, contact Thomas McGuire, KSC education faculty, at 603-358-2304.

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Keene, New Hampshire 03435