A local principal has been recognized by the state of Arkansas. Mrs. Thelma Forte, principal at Union Elementary, was one of three principals in the state who was recognized on May 9 at the Arkansas State Board of Education meeting for achieving the status of Master School Principal.
Each individual completed three years of rigorous professional development plus an additional year of performance evaluations to achieve the designation from the Arkansas Leadership Academy’s Master Principal Program.
“Leadership is essential to ensuring Arkansas’ students receive a quality education,” said Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Tom Kimbrell. “I commend these three principals for taking a leadership role and pursuing additional training to ensure our students graduate college and career ready.”
The Arkansas Leadership Academy is based in the College of Education and Health professions at the University of Arkansas. The Academy’s Master Principal Program was authorized by Act 44 of the Second Extraordinary Session of the 2003 Arkansas General Assembly.
Forte became the principal of Union Communication Elementary School in 2008. Among her many recognitions, she was named a National Board Certified Teacher in 2004. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Education, a master’s in Educational Leadership and an Educational Specialist from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia. Forte has been invited to share the work and results of increased student achievement at Union at the Arkansas Department of Education Division of Learning Services First Annual School Improvement Conference next month.
“Developing principals with the talent to lead complex organizations requires giving them a broad range of leadership experiences along the way,” ALA Director David Cook said. “This rigorous, four-year program enables these school leaders to enhance and accelerate student and adult learning. I commend these principals for being dedicated to their students, teachers and learning communities. I also want to thank the Arkansas Legislature, the Arkansas Department of Education, and the academy’s partners for their support and vision in building the leadership capacity of principals across our great state.”
Phase I of the Master Principal Program is open to all school principals who have at least one year of experience and the support and permission of 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 receive 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 on each team 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; and
· School performance: a site visit to gather evidence.
Successful performance in these three areas qualifies an individual for Master School Principal status. Master 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.
Established in 1991, the Arkansas Leadership Academy is a nationally recognized statewide partnership of 15 universities; nine professional associations; 15 educational cooperatives; the Arkansas Departments of Education, Higher Education and Career Education; the Arkansas Educational Television Network; Tyson Foods Inc.; Walmart Stores Inc.; superintendent representatives; the Office of the Governor; and the State Board of Education.