In school, we are taught to be lifelong learners. Best stated by Albert Einstein, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death,” and regardless of age, rank or prowess, we should continually pursue knowledge to improve the situations in which we find ourselves.
This week, the abundance of yellow buses in West Central Indiana signifies the back to school season is officially underway. As children climb aboard and parents wave their goodbyes, students embark on their individual pursuits of knowledge and lifelong learning.
At the bell’s first sound, eager students pour into classrooms, filled with books and computers, and without a moment’s notice, educators ‘command the helm’ and take charge. I have always felt instructors have one of the most important tasks in society today: preparing students to succeed in today’s globally dynamic marketplace.
Principals work in unison with teachers and are accountable for the development of every student. School leaders remain the example for learning, and most are encouraged or even required to continue their professional development by taking classes, conducting outside research or learning from their peers.
As leaders, principals set the tone for every school, and the better prepared and equipped they are, the greater the benefit is for the students. This philosophy inspired a bipartisan initiative in the Legislature to pass a law this session, establishing the Indiana Principal Leadership Institute (IPLI) to help raise the standards of Indiana’s education system.
As the House sponsor of IPLI, alongside State Reps. Alan Morrison (R-Terre Haute) and Clyde Kersey (D-Terre Haute) as co-sponsors, we helped establish the two-year mentorship program to strengthen the leadership and management skills of Indiana’s public school principals.
Hosted by Indiana State University and launched July 17, the IPLI brought together Indiana’s education community by conducting a two-day orientation packed with professional development opportunities. During the first meeting, a diverse group of experienced education professionals united to address a variety of concerns affecting their school systems centered on enhancing the success of their students.
Led by highly-trained, knowledgeable school leaders, a key component of the IPLI’s kick-off was the mentorship program and small group discussions. Veteran principals conducted the groups which allowed the leaders to discuss specific needs or concerns, organize their issues and together comprise innovative solutions to address them.
With a strong support-system and network of principals forming, the groups discussed research projects for each school represented. Additionally, the mentors directed the principals to develop a personal and school improvement plan which they can, in turn, make available for the teachers over whom they preside.
I commend these school leaders for continuing down the path of lifelong learning, and I have always believed that working in the education profession is a true calling. We must continue to provide those who answered the call with every available resource to be effective educators, administrators or school leaders for the sake of our future, and the IPLI is a significant step towards that goal.
If any public school principal is interested in the IPLI’s 2014 class, applications are available at www.indianapli.org. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this excellent opportunity, and I look forward to observing the positive impact the IPLI will have on improving the state’s education system.