State's First Master Principals Recognized by Arkansas Leadership Academy
These four principals provide an excellent example to other administrators in the state of Arkansas and across the nation with their hard work and desire to improve their own skills and the education received by the children in the schools they lead.- Beverly Elliott, director of the Arkansas Leadership Academy
The Arkansas Leadership Academy announced the names March 12 of four school principals in Arkansas who are the first to achieve the status of master school principal through an intense three-year program.
The Arkansas Department of Education joined the Arkansas Leadership Academy based in the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas in making the announcement and recognizing the four principals at a meeting of the Arkansas State Board of Education.
Master school principals will receive a $9,000 per year bonus for five years upon earning the designation. They are eligible for an additional $25,000 per year for five years if they are selected to serve at a low-performing school.
Ken James, Arkansas commissioner of education, and Beverly Elliott, director of the Arkansas Leadership Academy, presented awards of distinction and certificates to:
- Blaine G. Alexander, principal of Magness Creek Elementary School in Cabot.
- Diane Barksdale, principal of Carver Magnet Elementary School in Little Rock.
- Debbie Davis, principal of Bayyari Elementary School in Springdale.
- Diana Peer, principal of Parkview Elementary School in Van Buren.
"I congratulate these individuals for pursuing excellence in their careers as educational leaders," James said. "This training above and beyond the licensing requirements for school administrators will indeed benefit these fine principals and, even more importantly, the teachers and students in the schools where they serve."
The Arkansas General Assembly authorized the Arkansas Leadership Academy Master Principal Institute in 2003. It is designed to develop leadership skills of principals through three phases of professional development. Sen. Dave Bisbee, R-Rogers, authored the legislation that created the program.
"More than 440 principals from 68 counties have participated in Phase I of the program," Elliott said. "Of those 440, 70 have continued through the process to Phase II, III, or, now, master school principal designation."
Elliott, who holds the Stewart T. Springfield Professorship in Educational Administration in the UA College of Education and Health Professions, said the principals have shown remarkable dedication to the program, and, more importantly, to improving their leadership abilities.
"These four principals provide an excellent example to other administrators in the state of Arkansas and across the nation with their hard work and desire to improve their own skills and the education received by the children in the schools they lead," Elliott said. "We are proud to introduce them as our first master principals, the first of many we hope to produce in the Arkansas Leadership Academy's efforts to improve education in the state of Arkansas."
Kathy Morledge has led the principal institute since 2004 and previously worked as assistant executive director of the Arkansas School Boards Association.
The leadership academy, which has received national recognition for its professional development programs for school teachers and administrators, also launched an invitational institute for superintendents last year. More than 10,000 people have participated in academy capacity-building programs for teachers, school teams and administrators since the academy was established in 1991 by the state Legislature and funded by the Arkansas Department of Education.
The academy has hosted visitors from 14 states, Washington, D.C., and China to observe and participate in academy activities. The Southern Regional Education Board featured the academy in "Hungry for Leadership" as one of the most effective leadership development activities for professionals in the southern region. The Annenberg/Corporation for Public Broadcasting named the academy a model program that contributes significant improvement to mathematics and science education in elementary and secondary schools in America. And, the Consortium of Policy Research in Education -- a research consortium of Harvard, Princeton, Rutgers, Stanford, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Wisconsin -- named the academy one of 12 initiatives nationally with potential to drive staff development, produce widespread collaboration and affect policy.
Phase I of the Master Principal Institute is open to all school principals with at least one year of experience and who have support and permission from their superintendents to participate. Principals from across the state meet during the year in four multi-day sessions for intense study while applying the learning from those sessions in their schools throughout the year.
Admission to the second phase of the program requires submission of a portfolio documenting the application of the lessons learned from the first phase and the results of that work to improve student and adult learning in the school.
To be admitted to the third phase, principals must complete a rigorous application process that includes evidence of their impact on education at the district, state and regional levels. These portfolios are evaluated by stakeholders in education from Arkansas as well as from out of state. Scorers received training through the Arkansas Leadership Academy.
After successful completion of all three phases, principals may choose to participate in a rigorous assessment by a team of trained examiners with at least one member from each team being from another state. The rigorous assessment process examines evidence from three primary sources:
- Student performance: An analysis of student academic achievement data.
- Principal performance: An analysis of a portfolio created by the principal.
- School performance: A site visit to gather evidence.
Successful completion of these steps qualifies an individual for Master School Principal status.
The Arkansas Leadership Academy is a collaborative partnership that includes nine state professional organizations, two members from businesses and industry, 15 universities, 15 educational cooperatives, four governmental agencies, three ex-officio members and two superintendents.
Who They Are
The master principals and some biographical information:
Blaine Alexander has been principal at Magness Creek Elementary School in Cabot since 2004. He earned both a bachelor of arts in education and a master of education in administration from Harding University. Former positions include serving as principal and assistant principal at Bonnie Grimes Elementary in Rogers and as elementary principal at Brookland Public Schools, Jackson Christian School in Jackson, Tenn., and Harding Academy School in Searcy. He was also a classroom teacher at Cutter Morning Star Elementary School.
Diane Barksdale has been principal at Carver Magnet Elementary in Little Rock since 1994. She holds both a bachelor's degree in home economics and a master's degree in home economics/elementary education from the University of Arkansas. She has pursued additional post-graduate hours from the University of Arkansas, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University of Central Arkansas.
Her previous experience includes serving as an assistant principal at Carver, a nutrition education training program consultant for the Arkansas Department of Education, a home economics teacher at Hall High School in Little Rock and a first-grade teacher at West Fork Public Schools in West Fork.
Debbie Davis has been an elementary principal with the Springdale Public Schools since 2004. She holds both a bachelor of arts in art education and a master of education from the University of Central Oklahoma and earned her doctoral degree from the University of Arkansas. She was formerly a teacher with the Mustang Public Schools and the Eureka Springs Public Schools and has served as a kindergarten through eighth-grade assistant principal and also as an elementary principal with Eureka Springs Public Schools.
Diana Peer has been principal at Parkview Elementary School in Van Buren since 1998. She holds a bachelor of arts in music education from Hendrix College and a master of education in instructional resources from the University of Arkansas. She has completed additional coursework at Southern Methodist University, Perkins School of Theology; the University of Central Arkansas; the University of Arkansas; and Arkansas Tech University.
Previous positions include serving as library media specialist at Parkview Elementary and at Sophia Meyer Elementary in Van Buren, as choral music director at Darby Junior High in Fort Smith and music director at Heritage United Methodist Church in Van Buren.
Heidi Stambuck, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
(479) 575-3138, firstname.lastname@example.org