Leadership Training for Adventist Principals

Posted on September 25th, 2014

Early on, we discovered the need to cultivate and train the next generation of Adventist principals – a generation of not only great educators, but also savvy financiers, top-notch marketers, outgoing recruiters, and uplifting team-builders.

Matthew Jakobsons, vice principal of academics at Sacramento Adventist Academy, participates in team a building activities.

Matthew Jakobsons, vice principal of academics at Sacramento Adventist Academy, participates in team building activities.

Recently, we hosted the first annual Principal Leadership Academy (PLA) on July 6– 18, 2014 for 12 principals from various Adventist schools across North America. The purpose of this event, held on the campus of Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tenn., was to equip Seventh-day Adventist principals with the skills they need to lead successful programs in their communities.

“Our goal for PLA is to groom the participants with management and operations skills that can transform their schools into thriving institutions of excellence,” said Ambassador Kathryn Proffitt, chief executive officer at Alumni Awards Foundation. 

During this two-week summer intensive program, participants learned from experienced and proven leaders about real solutions to the everyday problems principals face. They also gained data-driven tools and discovered assessment-based strategies for leading their organizations.

“One of the hardest parts of being a principal is wearing several different hats at once,” said Steve Baughman, principal at Indiana Academy in Cicero, Ind. “Some of the seminars have really focused on being able to be an administrator in several different areas simultaneously, including finance, vision planning, team building, and focusing on instructional leadership.”

Participants engaged with presenter Beau Johnson about how to build high trust teams.

Participants engaged with presenter Beau Johnson about how to build high trust teams.

Participants were hand-selected from academies across North America – such as Echo Ridge Christian School, Georgia Cumberland Academy, and Sacramento Adventist Academy. The 12 participants received practical training adaptable to their unique situation and leadership style, and they were given scheduled time for peer collaboration and professional networking.

“I believe that investment in the leadership of our Adventist schools is crucial to their success,” said Justin Okimi, principal at Maplewood Academy, Hutchinson, Minn. “I am not only excited for the knowledge acquired, but also the personal growth and the professional skills that I am gaining to be a better principal and leader at my school.”

The participants engaged in 25 courses on the principles of leadership and best practices for school management and operations. As professionals in their field, course instructors provided participants with specific strategies to ensure success. Class topics included spiritual leadership, student life, strategic decision-making, human resources, fiscal accountability, and advancement and fundraising.

Kathryn Proffitt, Alumni Awards Foundation CEO, congratulate participants at the Celebration Soiree at the end of the two-week session.

Kathryn Proffitt, Alumni Awards Foundation CEO, congratulated and praised participants at the Celebration Soiree.

“I loved the session about a new teacher mentorship program and backwards student schedule planning that they do at McCallie School in Tennessee,” said Fawn Scherencel, registrar at Hinsdale Adventist Academy in Hinsdale, Ill. “It was very applicable and practical and something I can take back to my school and get started with right away.”

We plan to continue the Principal Leadership Academy, and we are already creating ways to expand the program to include mentoring opportunities and internships for on-the-job training.

Success rises and falls with leadership, and we believe it is our responsibility to equip Adventist principals with the training they need to achieve excellence. We are committed to this objective and will continue to provide our Seventh-day Adventist schools, administrators and teachers with the skills and resources to become thriving institutions of distinction.

Norma Howard, principal at Needles Adventist Christian School in Needles, Cali., was inspired and encouraged by the PLA. “A spiritual aspect that I have learned over the Principal Leadership Academy has been seeing God work in the Renaissance Network,” Howard said. “I see in them a desire to take Adventist education another step forward to be as God has intended it to be, the head and not the tail.”

We ended with a gala “Celebration Soirée” with a racing theme, challenging our principals to Win the Renaissance Network Race for Excellence in Adventist Education.

The attendants sat down for dinner and was able to get more acquainted with one another.

The attendants sat down for dinner and was able to get more acquainted with one another.

During this special evening, faculty, board members, and invited guests were treated to a garden reception, an elegant dinner and an awards presentation honoring the accomplishments of our principals.

The evening concluded with the principals praying for their schools and writing a personal goal or objective for their academy on sky lanterns.  As the lanterns floated together into the starlight sky, the guests were surprised by a beautiful fireworks show.

Putting together this high quality program took a great deal of time, energy and resources, but it was well worth it!  The 2014 Principal Leadership Academy was a tremendous success, with the participants reenergized and hopeful for the future of Adventist education.

The greatest reward was to see how the PLA was received by the principals and teachers who gave up their summer vacation to attend.  The participants expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to attend this seminar and urged us to provide additional training next summer.

If you are interested to donating to this program, please contact at (423) 308-1855 or info@alumniawards.org.

To view more photos from this event in our photo gallery.

You can also watch a video about our 2014 Principal Leadership Academy with interviews of the participants.

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