The State of Illinois has approved North Central College’s graduate program that prepares candidates to become principals and other school leaders.
North Central College for many years has offered a master’s of education (MAEd) degree. But the state has legislated new and more rigorous requirements for all principal-preparation programs, and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) must approve all newly designed programs by Sept. 1.
“The new requirements to better prepare future principals have been in the works in Illinois for more than five years,” says Kristine Servais, associate professor of education and coordinator of the master of arts in education degree program at North Central College. “We began over the past two years to gradually incorporate the required increased internship time, special education training and teacher evaluation into our program. As a result, our candidates will not see a drastic overhaul of the program but rather a continuous emphasis on quality performance.”
The ISBE’s Educator Preparation and Licensure Board voted May 31 to approve North Central’s MAEd principal-preparation program. North Central became the fifth program to earn state approval, and the rigorously redesigned curriculum, internship and partnership program prompted high praise from an ISBE staff member.
“Congratulations … on a terrific principal preparation redesign,” said Michele M. Seelbach, consultant and member of the Licensure Board. Calling North Central’s degree an “exemplar” among educator leadership programs in Illinois, the state Licensure Board said North Central’s leadership candidate admission process is “excellent … a strength of this program,” and the 12-month internship component as “well-defined.”
North Central College’s Educational Leadership and Administration Program provides graduate candidates with a rigorous curriculum of authentic leadership preparation and extensive practical experiences designed to develop highly competent instructional leaders, including principals, assistant principals, department chairs and team leaders. North Central’s MAEd curriculum is revised and updated annually to reflect the most current best practices.
Graduates of North Central College’s principal-preparation program “understand the importance and use of data and what it means for a principal today to be truly collaborative,” says David Danielski, principal of Hammerschmidt Elementary School in Lombard School District 44. Danielski is a 2007 alumnus of North Central’s principal-preparation graduate degree and helped the College assess recent graduates of the program.
Another key component to the success of North Central’s principal-preparation program is the partnerships the College has developed with area school districts, including Naperville Community Unit School District 203, Indian Prairie School District 204 and East Aurora School District 131.
“School partners played an active and collaborative role in the program’s redesign,” the College wrote in its application for state approval. “The leadership faculty worked closely with the steering committees from each partnership district, partnership principals and district alumni to discuss the strengths of the program and areas to improve.”
A 12- to 18-month internship experience is part of North Central’s principal-preparation program. Highly qualified principal mentors on-site work closely with candidates to assess their performance in conducting authentic field work closely aligned with the role of the mentor.
In addition to its Educational Leadership and Administration Program, North Central College offers a Teacher as Leader in Curriculum and Instruction master’s degree that includes tracks with courses from the MAEd degree that allow classroom teachers to specialize in curriculum, reading or leadership from the classroom. Curriculum and Instruction degree candidates may cross over to the MAEd principal-preparation program as still another developmental career alternative.
“The two complimentary programs allow teachers to grow as leaders first from the classroom and eventually develop the experience, competencies and confidence to become successful principals and instructional leaders,” Servais says.
North Central College will welcome the first leadership candidates under its fully implemented, redesigned, state-approved principal-preparation program this fall.
Master of arts in education is among seven graduate degrees offered at North Central College. The College offers an undergraduate degree in elementary education, with opportunities to earn minors in reading, English language learning and health education. The secondary education minor is designed to be paired with majors in art, biology, chemistry, English, French, German, mathematics, music, physical education, physics, social science/history or Spanish.