Principal Corps Accepting Applications for 2017-18 Cohort

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Dr. Andy Mullins speaks to Principal Corps cohort

The School of Education (SOE) is now accepting applications for its K-12 leadership-training program, Principal Corps. Principal Corps applications are open to all teachers who meet the minimum qualifications and are due by Feb. 1.

Principal Corps’ concept began in 2004 with a $2 million planning grant from the Jim and Donna Barksdale Foundation. After five years of research, the first class was accepted in 2009; and in 2012, the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation gifted the program with more than $1.4 million.

Successful Principal Corps applicants must hold a current Mississippi teacher’s license, have three years of teaching experience, a minimum 3.0 in their last academic program, have a competitive GRE score and the endorsement from their current district superintendent. Though many applicants in the pool may meet these qualifications, the selection committee keeps each cohort small by focusing on the quality of the applications.

“The quality determines how many people we take,” said Tom Burnham, Principal Corps interim director. “We don’t have a numerical number that we stick with, but we probably won’t take any more than 20 candidates in a year, and the most we’ve ever had is 18. We often say that where the quality ends, that’s where we stop taking candidates.”

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Accepted applicants receive funding for tuition, books, fees, summer housing and a living stipend, while also being paid by their school district under the Mississippi guidelines for sabbatical pay. Additionally, once the program is completed and the participant accepts a principal or assistant principal position, they receive a $10,000 sign-on bonus paid over two years in two $5,000 lump sums at the beginning of the school years.

“When I first got the email about the program, I thought it was a joke someone was playing on me,” said Tessa Trimm, 2014 Principal Corps graduate. “The scholarships, perks and sign-on bonus… it was all too good to be true.”

Principal Corps requires a five-year commitment to education in the state of Mississippi after completion of the program. Successful candidates are not required to work as an administrator, but they must be employed as a teacher, instructional coach, administrator or similar position for five years.

For those who complete the program, Burnham and the rest of the Principal Corps faculty and staff have high expectations for their careers in K-12 leadership.

“We exprincipal-corps-2pect to see high, high levels of instructional leadership and for them to be extremely effective in terms of changing culture, which is difficult,” Burnham said. “It takes three to five years to make a significant impact on culture, and most people don’t have the patience to wait that long.”
Current cohort members, those who started the program in June 2016 and will finish in July 2017, have already seen growth in themselves as leaders. Mary Kate Diltz has seen first hand that Principal Corps can help to greatly improve public education in the state of Mississippi.

Current cohort members, those who started the program in June 2016 and will finish in July 2017, have already seen growth in themselves as leaders. Mary Kate Diltz has seen first hand that Principal Corps can help to greatly improve public education in the state of Mississippi.

Current cohort members, those who started the program in June 2016 and will finish in July 2017, have already seen growth in themselves as leaders. Mary Kate Diltz has seen first hand that Principal Corps can help to greatly improve public education in the state of Mississippi.

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“I would recommend this program to anyone who wants to increase their knowledge of instructional leadership,” Diltz said. “As principals, we work to increase academic achievement, mentor students and faculty and connect with the community. We have been given a mission to improve Mississippi schools, and if anyone wants to be a part of that change, this program is a great catalyst.”

Alumni of Principal Corps have also seen the benefits in their own lives and careers, as well as in their schools. Principal Corps allows for candidates to train under effective leaders, which makes their first year after the program more manageable and impactful.

“The first class you take is a leadership class, and then you get real on the job training,” Trimm said. “It is a true internship experience. It’s like student teaching, but you get to practice being a principal; so, when you have your first job as a principal or an assistant principal, you already have one year under your belt.”

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Principal Corps trains teachers to become effective leaders who will grow a culture of excellence in their schools. Since Principal Corps’ inception in 2009, the program has trained 78 K-12 school administrators with 58 currently employed as principals or assistant principals in the state of Mississippi.

“Principal Corps has helped to increase the level of expectation for administrators,” Burnham said. “Our administrators serve as true instructional leaders.”


Amy Goodin is a writer for HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at argoodin12@gmail.com.

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