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NDSU assists state school systems in “growing” their own principals



Fargo, North Dakota – Through a free degree program, North Dakota State University is assisting in the development of future leaders in K–12 education.

Eleven administrators from three North Dakota school districts are enrolled in the five-semester online Leadership Development Apprentice program, which is designed to help them earn their principal credential and a master’s degree in K–12 leadership. The program began this autumn.

Three of the administrators are employed by the Wahpeton School District, Central Cass Schools, and Fargo Public Schools.

In a manner akin to a grow-your-own paradigm, Hollie Mackey, an associate professor of educational and organizational leadership at NDSU, said the apprenticeship program is tackling the state-wide deficit in education leadership jobs.

“Our students step out of our doors prepared to lead, and it’s evident,” Mackey said.

After submitting an application for the Aspiring Principals Pipeline Grant, NDSU was the first university in the state to be awarded financing for the program.

According to an NDSU representative, the $150,000 award pays for the existing students’ tuition, fees, books, and supplies.

Anyone working in a K–12 administrative capacity is eligible to apply, including instructional coach leaders, assistant principals, and deans of students.

A wide range of courses, including curriculum, ethics, research, educational law and policy, people development, supervision, staff and finance, are taken by students with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

“At the beginning of the semester, my brain was exploding with so much excitement due to the depth of learning I was experiencing in my classes,” said Sydney Azure, a student in the program and a K-12 facilitator for Fargo Public Schools.

Students have a mentor principal at their school and participate in structured extracurricular activities during a one-year practicum in addition to their academics.

According to Mackey, a consortium of state-wide principals affiliated with the NDSU School of Education is spearheading the students’ professional growth.

Following a request from the state’s Department of Public Instruction, North Dakota was granted permission by the Department of Labor to offer the leadership development apprenticeship.

Future financing may be available, and more students may be able to enroll in the following cohort, according to Mackey.