Nebraska public school districts begin unified effort to prioritize principal leadership, launch Tri-City ASCEND Academy


A collective dedication to principal management is underway in Central Nebraska, with a trio of school districts — Grand Island Public Schools (GIPS), Hastings Public Schools (HPS) and Kearney Public Schools (KPS) — saying the launch of the Tri-City ASCEND Academy. This natural principal initiative was grown out of the districts’ want to give attention to systematic enhancements to the preparation, hiring, help and administration of school leaders.

“We’ve long known that strong principal leadership is a key lever to improved student achievement,” mentioned Nebraska Education Commissioner Dr. Matthew L. Blomstedt.  “The efforts of the Tri-City Alliance demonstrate partnerships to build a lasting legacy of strong leadership and are the type of models we need to build and sustain educational improvement across the state.”

Also referred to as ASCEND, the Tri-City Alliance is a principal pipeline that gives a spread of expertise administration actions for which the districts themselves are accountable. These embrace: 

  • Leader requirements, which information all pipeline actions
  • Preservice preparation alternatives for assistant principals and principals
  • Selective hiring and placement
  • On-the-job induction, analysis and help.

(S, M. Gates, M. D. Baird, B. Ok. Master, E. R. Chavez-Herrerias, 2019)

ASCEND is supported by every respective school districts’ boards of training.

“I am so excited about this opportunity to partner with GIPS and KPS,” mentioned HPS Superintendent Jeff Schneider. “We know we can accomplish more for our students by working with and learning from our peers. The fact that the board members of each district are supportive of this cooperation is a very positive sign that this Academy can continue to grow and benefit students from all three communities.”

GIPS, HPS and KPS collectively serve greater than 19,000 college students and characterize the three largest school districts in South-Central Nebraska. Findings from the Tri-City ASCEND Academy will probably be shared throughout the state.

With rising populations and an evolving academic panorama, it’s crucial that principals be ready to perceive and meet the wants of their college students. “The Tri-City ASCEND Academy aims to lift leaders to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” mentioned KPS Superintendent Dr. Kent Edwards.

“Cities are growing in Central Nebraska, and with growth comes increased diversity. Each of us knew that we could do more together,” mentioned GIPS Superintendent Dr. Tawana Grover. “Research shows that an investment in principal leadership makes a significant impact on student learning. This comprehensive pipeline approach, grounded in an equity-centered leadership continuum, will allow each of our districts to better develop and elevate school leader talent.”

The ASCEND Academy was a spinoff of the Tri-City Alliance, which was shaped almost 5 years in the past between the Grand Island, Hastings, and Kearney school programs. This alliance analyzes and spotlights district commonalities so that every can higher serve its stakeholders. “The ASCEND Academy will provide excellent staff development and direct exposure,” mentioned Edwards. “It will bring experience to building-level leadership that will prove invaluable to our school systems and potential principals.”

“This is truly a one-of-a-kind program that will augment the experiences of administrators and positively impact the educational opportunities of students in Central Nebraska,” mentioned Dr. Grover. “Each district will work to identify candidates, who will then have the opportunity to participate in a customized curriculum developed by the Tri-City Alliance and influenced by university partners. These candidates will join a cohort and be assigned a mentor. Future principals will intern with field experience in their home district and in one of the partnering districts to broaden their perspective through an on-the-job role and real-world preparation that is rarely provided to aspiring principals.” 

“The ultimate goal is for members of the ASCEND cohort to have the training and support necessary to be ready day one when assuming the role of the principalship in our districts,” mentioned Schneider. “This Academy will give them the tools required to excel.”

The Tri-City ASCEND Academy is aligned with main nationwide analysis on efficient pipelines for future school leaders sponsored by The Wallace Foundation. ASCEND is supported via Nebraska’s participation within the ESSA Leadership and Learning Community mission sponsored by The Wallace Foundation. 

eSchool News Staff
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