WAHOO – Leadership Learning Walks is the name of a new program that brings principals from the area together to promote growth in school leaders.
According to Eileen Barks, professional developer for Educational Service (ESU) 2, most of the schools in the ESU are participating.
“I personally am teamed up with Ashland principal, Wahoo middle school principal, and the Wahoo athletic director/assistant principal,” she said. “The group meets about nine times throughout the year taking turns each hosting at our respective schools. We work on ways to improve each other’s school.”
According to Barks, objectives include to facilitate multiple small principal networks in the region who will support each other to make clear measurable progress in increasing equitable student outcomes; to build professional learning communities as they focus on improving instruction, school culture and effective learning environments; to engage network teams in data-rich conversations that lead to improved equitable student outcomes, to pinpoint effective, evidence-based practices that are likely to lead to increased equitable student outcomes and to support principals across networks to build capacity in effective teaching and learning in all schools.
Robert Barry, assistant principal and activities director at Wahoo Public Schools said within the group, each administrator is at different points in their careers so it brings a wide variety of perspectives.
“Brad Jacobsen from Ashland-Greenwood has a ton of experience and is the Principal of the Year award recipient, Brian Daniell from Yutan is in his second year as the high school principal and Marc Kaminski is in his fourth year as Wahoo Middle School principal,” he said.
Barry, in his first year as an assistant principal and activities director for Wahoo Public Schools, taught special education at both Ashland-Greenwood and Wahoo Public for five years.
Barry believes that the biggest takeaway from this leadership group is the conversations of researched-based instructional strategies and data to improve instruction, monitor student progress and engaging students in their own learning.
“It has been a great professional development for administrators,” he said. “I look forward to continued growth both individually and collectively as a group to grow our leadership skills to have a positive impact on our students and staff.”
Barks said it began as an answer to principals wanting to collaborate and learn from each other.
“In many of our rural schools there is only one or two principals and they are isolated,” she said. “We have four triads/quads and they all meet at different times.”
According to Barks, there were four schools that received an Educator Effectiveness Grant from the state and two of those are using some of their money for this program.
“The ESU then used some of our Leadership Budget,” she said. “We are working with a consultant from San Diego State University that we connected with via some state work.”
Jacobsen, Ashland Greenwood Middle School and High School principal, said the program is an excellent professional development tool for building principals.
“Principals in effective schools are instructional leaders,” he said. “Instructional leadership needs development and improvement just like any other educational strategies. “
Jacobsen said the program has provided the opportunity in a small group to visit each other’s schools.
“We have in depth discussions about effective instruction and really focus on how we as building leaders can have an impact on our teachers and students in positive ways,” he said.