In the spring of 2000, at the urging of the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) and following the merger of the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) and the Elementary and Middle School Principals Association of Connecticut (EMSPAC), CAS established the Connecticut Principals’ Center. Its founding purpose was to address the professional development and related needs of practicing principals and to support the professional development of aspiring principals. Since then, the CSDE has been an important partner with CAS in developing the Principals’ Center by providing both technical assistance and financial support.
The Principals’ Center is committed to supporting school leaders’ efforts to enhance teaching, learning and leading in the schools of Connecticut by:
- implementing quality programs to attract and develop future school leaders;
- providing quality, research-based leadership development programs for beginning and experienced school leaders; and
- advancing the understanding of and advocacy for issues relevant to school leaders;
- recognizing, celebrating and sharing exemplary achievement and best practices;
The center is comprised of an elementary, middle and high school division, each organized around a board of control and with a standing committee structure. Experienced principals, consultants, and central office and state department personnel serve on these boards and committees to plan and implement activities relevant to their focus. Separate units of organization oversee the University of Connecticut Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP) and the Executive Coaching initiatives.
The Center is governed by the Principals’ Center Board of Control which is made up of experienced principals, representatives of graduate and under-graduate educational leadership and other educational programs, educational consultants, central office personnel, and an associate commissioner of education who represents the CSDE. Center programs are organized around four strands which frame the Center’s purpose. Each of the strands has its own committee of school administrators and consultants who plan and implement activities relevant to its focus.
Programs organized around the four strands annually support hundreds of school leaders throughout Connecticut.
Recent examples include:
Strand I – Future School Leaders
Implementing Quality Programs to Attract and Develop Future School Leaders
- Eastern Connecticut Aspirant Program – CAS and EASTCONN collaborate on a semester long program for potential leaders nominated by their principals.
- Meriden Leadership Academy – a year long program for aspiring school leaders in the Meriden Public Schools.
- New Haven Future Leaders Program – a semester long program for 092 certified New Haven teachers selected for their leadership potential.
- Southern Connecticut State University Intern Program – educational leadership interns attend Principals’ Center professional development programs as part of their clinical preparation.
- UCAPP – the Principals’ Center, in partnership with the university, manages the twelve credit clinical component of the University of Connecticut Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP).
Strand II – Career Principals
Providing Quality Research-Based Leadership Development Programs for Beginning and Experienced Principals
- CAS Conferences – statewide conferences organized around a theme with applications for school leaders at every level.
- The Breakthrough Coach – a two-day workshop presented annually to administrator-secretary teams demonstrating that it is possible to “Work Less, Produce More & Still Get the Job Done in a Sensible School Week.”
- Classroom Data-Feedback, Follow-Up and Follow-Through – a two-day standards-based professional development program for both new and experienced administrators.
- Annual CT Public School Data Conference – CAS collaborates with the CSDE and EASTCONN in this annual celebration of the state’s school improvement efforts.
- Early Childhood Symposia – professional development for school leaders focusing on “Getting Pre-K to Grade 3 Right” with language, mathematics and executive function.
- Executive Coaching Program – a partnership with the CSDE to recruit, train, supervise and evaluate executive coaches to support the leaders of low-performing schools in their efforts to improve student achievement.
- iPad Workshops for Administrators – workshops designed to show how the iPad can impact the daily life of an administrator and shape classroom instruction.
- Leading Change…and Getting Everyone On Board – a two-day standards-based professional development program for both new and experienced administrators.
- New Leaders Academy – an induction program for new administrators pairing each with an experienced mentor and offering both a sequence of professional development activities.
- NEASC Accreditation Support – a two-day training program for high school administrators and key teachers designed to help schools understand and prepare for the NEASC school improvement and assessment process.
- Principals’ Leadership Series – a year-long leadership development series based upon the McREL research monograph, “Changing the Odds for Student Success–What Matters Most.”
- Principal Shadowing Program – pairs Connecticut principals with Chinese principals from throughout Shandong Province, China, and includes “home and home” visits.
- School Climate and Bullying – statewide and regional conferences to inform school leaders of the requirements of the new anti-bullying legislation and conferences for teachers and student leaders to promote positive school climate.
- Student Success Plans – a series of regional conferences to inform school leaders of the requirements of SSP legislation and to share best practices.
- Summer Leadership Institute – a two-day residential program offered each summer focusing on the skills needed by school leaders to succeed in today’s climate of accountability.
Strand III – Critical Issues
Advancing the Understanding of and Advocacy for Issues Relevant to School Leaders
- The Critical Issues Committee’s present work centers on the revision of the CT State Standards for School Leaders.
- This Committee’s recent work includes two monographs, “The 21st Century Principal: A Call to Action” and “No Child Left Behind – The School Principal’s Perspective”; a position statement on the issues connected to the “highly qualified teacher” portion of NCLB; and a position statement on distributive leadership and the redesign of the job of the school principal.
- The Critical Issues Committee’s work on the implications for school leaders of rapidly occurring changes in the global economy formed the theme for a CAS Conference.
Advocacy & Influence
CAS member school leaders and CAS staff work collaboratively with educational policy making organizations at all levels to ensure a “voice at the table” for school leaders when issues of importance for school life are being considered. Structures facilitating this include:
- Connecticut Coalition for Public Education – CAS leadership meets monthly with the leaders of eight state organizations representing teachers, principals, superintendents, and school board members.
- CAS Legislative Committee – with the assistance of a lobbyist, the committee tracks legislation, surveys members, and testifies with regard to education-related bills being considered in the Connecticut State Legislature.
- Formal Affiliations – CAS is affiliated with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the National Middle School Association, the New England League of Middle Schools, and the Connecticut Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
- Ad Hoc Memberships – CAS member school leaders and CAS staff are involved in major planning and policy initiatives (e.g. secondary school reform, performance evaluation of teachers and administrators, middle level teacher certification, administrative certification, state strategic planning, Early Childhood Education, etc.) emanating from the CSDE and other organizations.
- RESC/SERC Alliance – CAS meets multiple times a year with representatives of the State Education Resource Center, the Regional Education Service Centers and the CSDE to plan, organize and monitor the work of the Connecticut Accountability for Learning Initiative (CALI), the statewide school improvement effort.
Strand IV – Recognition
Exemplary achievements and “best practices” are recognized, celebrated and shared in a variety of ways. These include:
- CAS School of the Year – an outstanding middle school and an outstanding elementary school are selected and celebrated each year.
- CAS Volunteer Recognition Program – this program publicly acknowledges the work of volunteers in all of our schools.
- Exemplary Educator Awards – outstanding personnel from each level are recognized as the elementary, middle and high school Exemplary Educators.
- Exemplary Programs – outstanding elementary instructional and school improvement programs are selected, celebrated and shared each year.
- Exemplary School Climate Practices – this program provides recognition for middle and elementary schools emphasizing the fact that positive climate factors are embedded in almost all aspects of school life in successful schools.
- Exemplary Teaming Practices – this program provides recognition for middle schools demonstrating that the interdisciplinary team of teachers with a common group of students is a signature component of high-performing schools.
- Outstanding First Year Principals – outstanding first year elementary, middle, and high school principals are selected and celebrated each year.
- Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year – outstanding elementary, middle, and high school principals and assistant principals are selected and celebrated each year.