Principals benefit from new paradigm in leadership training.

Blending established leadership training with best business practices was the core of an innovative Principals Leadership Development Program launched in June at Florida International University (FIU).

The inaugural class of thirty public school principals attended the intense weeklong program, a collaboration of FIU’s Center for Leadership and Miami-Dade County Public Schools, with the generous support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Multidisciplinary lectures focused on a broad spectrum of leadership competencies. FIU faculty member Robert Dollinger, MD, discusses the role of health and nutrition in effective decision making.

Through the new training paradigm, participants learned proven business practices and how to incorporate FIU’s groundbreaking leadership research in their work with students, teachers and staff. Sessions thoroughly explored methods that successful CEOs use, such as effective communication, decision-making strategies and how to build and lead teams. The program also emphasized the linkage between autognosis (the recognition of one’s own character and tendencies) and personal and professional success.

The “A-Team” works on problem-solving and team-building skills during “Triple Threat” activity.

“You can’t lead others until you know how to lead yourself,” said Olinda Elementary principal Adrian Montes. “Only then you can use leadership tools to motivate others, communicate with others and show others the way.”

The program was developed based on the ongoing research and extensive experience of FIU President Emeritus Modesto A. Maidique, executive director of the center.

Modesto A. Maidique

“This program builds on the excellent leadership skills these principals already possess and empowers them to capitalize on cutting-edge tools to transform their schools,” Maidique said.

In addition to Maidique, faculty included Joyce J. Elam, executive dean of the College of Business Administration, as well as business, psychology, and education professors and consultants. The team also featured communications, health, nutrition and fitness experts.

“As principals, we don’t often reflect on why we do the things we do,” said Sally Alayon, principal of Alonzo & Tracy Mourning Senior High. “Through this program, we acquired tools for better decision making and learned the role of self-awareness in effective leadership.”

Six principals from each of the five regions of Miami-Dade County Public Schools—encompassing elementary, middle, senior high, prep and K-8 schools—participated.

Participants engaged in lively discussions about the program during meals, here in the college’s atrium; left to right: faculty member Michael Woodward with principals Lisa Nofo, Jacques Bentolila, Connie Navarro, Alicia Hidalgo, Luis Bello and Sally Alyon.

“The program allowed me to come together with colleagues, share challenges and best practices, and to be reminded of the kind of leader I want to be to improve my school,” said Tonya Dillard, principal of Madison Middle School.

Principal Adrienne Wright-Mullings with award presented to members of the inaugural class.

Principals are receiving follow-up.

During the 2010-2011 academic year, the principals will receive one-on-one executive coaching sessions and daylong program enhancement sessions in November and February.

Additionally, Knight Faculty Fellow in Leadership Paul D. Gallagher, senior vice president emeritus of FIU, will visit each principal at their respective schools during the year.


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