Bradley County administrators and assistant principals joined peers from other school systems Thursday and Friday for unique leadership training.
Joining Bradley County Schools were Polk County, Monroe County and Sweetwater City schools.
Together these rural school districts form the Tennessee Valley Learning Network.
The network was awarded a LEAD grant from the Tennessee Department of Education to receive training with the National Institute for School leadership over the next year.
“It is going to cover a whole year … We have two days a month through next June,” Bradley County Schools director Johnny McDaniel said
School enrollment numbers determined how many administrators or aspiring administrators from each school system could attend, according to McDaniel.
He said Bradley County was able to have 10 administrators and 10 aspiring administrators attend the training.
It is a wonderful training,” Supervisor for elementary education Sheena Newman. “We are just excited to have training (of this) quality.”
The training will present up-to-date research and statistics on education and how the United States compares to other nations.
“It’s about looking at how to improve best practices,” McDaniel said.
Newman commented that the training was some of the best of its kind.
“What we want to do is build capacity within our leadership in Bradley County— to become better leaders to be able to impact the education of our students,” Newman said.
Chuck Kensinger of the National Institute for School Leadership said the ultimate goal of the training is to give administrators ideas and practical tools to implement in their schools.
He said Thursday and Friday served as a way to start an “educational challenge “ for higher success.
Over the next year, participants will complete 13 units of leadership studies.
Rachel Wilson with Bradley County Virtual Schools said she was looking forward “to being able to meet with (other aspiring principals) within our county and within other districts that our participating.”
Walker Valley high School assistant principal Chris Green said he was interested in the updated research and best practices that would be available during the course.
“Its one of the only research base administrative programs in the country,” Kensinger said.
The process began with a study of benchmarking.
“How we compare to other countries when we compare ourselves with other countries its called benchmarking, So we benchmark and look at top performing countries in education and we talk about lessons we can learn,” Kensinger said.
The training uses a format that encourages discussion and has participants working in small groups.
Kristy Carroll said Singapore’s education structure and success was a major topic during Friday’s session.
“It’s an amazing opportunity… most of the time we are having to pay to do this and this is through a grant,” Carroll said.
The assistant principals said the training was a part of being a life long learner. There is potential that those participating may be able to count the training toward completing an advanced degree. No official agreements have been made.
This training would usually cost $10,000 per person.
Denny Collins said the program provided opportunities for professional growth and networking.
“Working with people in your same position helps to grow ideas and expand ideas,” Collins said.
He said he feels the training will also give a renewed excitement about his job.
“It’s always nice to hear how other people are doing things and it gives you an opportunity to look at your building an your kids and how things are oriented in your own personal space,”
The two –day kick –off was complete with homework as the participants read a case study of education changes in Singapore that have propelled students to higher test scores over the past 30 years.
McDaniel said the training follows a system based on military, medical or law where professionals concentrate on improving their practice.
An action learning project component of the training will have administrators applying what they are learning and gathering data on the results to represent at the end of the year.