Kirk Johnson

The association that represents the state’s school administrators is expanding its “coaching” program for principals.

“By developing enhanced learning opportunities for principals…our school leaders will be empowered to be the principals that Iowa students need,” says Kirk Johnson, a Waukee principal who is president of the School Administrators of Iowa.

The “Principal Support Program” was designed three years ago with $2 million in state money. State funding ended, though. The School Administrators of Iowa has financed training for 27 principals this school year. The group plans to expand that to 100 principals next year.

Principals in Iowa are adjusting to the 2013 state education reform plan that established bonuses for teachers who become mentors or “instructional coaches” for other teachers. The year-long Principal Training Program helps principals find ways to include those teachers in making decisions about their school. Iowa Area Education Agencies director Tom Lane says the AEAs around the state will host half-day workshops, as well as the “summer institute” for principals in the program.

“It is the building principal who can attract great teachers to the building, nurture their professional growth and build a community of learning,” he says.

Principals in Iowa’s 333 school districts are being encouraged to collaborate with the teachers who are coaching other teachers in the district. One-quarter of the teachers in Iowa public schools have recognized mentoring roles within their districts because the state’s Teacher Leadership Initiative.