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October 19, 2014

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UNLV program sets out to groom future principals for CCSD

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L.E. Baskow

Chaparral High School Principal Lolo James watches students stream by as he begins his first day as the top administrator there, Aug. 25, 2014. A new master’s program in educational leadership will train and prepare principals for the challenges they’ll face in Las Vegas today.

A new master's program launching in January at UNLV is designed to produce the principals of the future for Clark County School District.

The new program, which was announced Tuesday, is focused on the evolving needs of principals today. It is no longer enough to file paperwork and keep an eye on children during the day like it was over 15 years ago, Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky said. The job has changed.

Principals today need to know how to educate teachers on new teaching techniques to engage students, engage the community for resources and work with social service organizations helping students.

Working with Skorkowsky and the district, UNLV’s Greenspun College of Urban Affairs redesigned its master’s program in educational leadership to train and prepare principals for the challenges they’ll face in Las Vegas today.

“If we don’t train and take the understanding that it takes everyone to change education, then we’re not going to be successful,” Skorkowsky said. “It has to be a collaborative (effort) ... to make sure every administrator walks in with the skills necessary to deal with instructional leadership and the needs of their school community and the district as a whole.”

UNLV began working with Skorkowsky and former Superintendent Dwight Jones two years ago to revamp the educational leadership program after it was placed on hold due to budget cuts during the recession. That time allowed the university to shape the program to the needs of schools in Las Vegas, said UNLV’s Executive Vice President and Provost John Valery White.

The new program is designed for working teachers and other school professionals, and can be completed in 18 months. In addition to standard course work, teachers will receive field-based experience at schools and mentoring from principals handpicked by the school district. The program also meets both the Nevada Endorsement as Administrator of a School and the new state standards for an administrator, which are required to become a principal.

The first class will include 25 slots. Most of those will be filled by teachers in the Clark County School District, said Patti Chance, the program’s planning director.

The school district plans to market the course to its top-ranked teachers and premier minority teachers to apply for the program, Skorkowsky said. The goal is to provide a base of leaders that reflect the district’s minority-majority student population, and in the end, produce the principals of the future.

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