Miami-Dade County principals receive intensive leadership enhancement.

With almost 35 years in education and as principal of a top-performing high school of 3,000 students, Nick JacAngelo might be a hard man to impress. But the 2011 Principals Leadership Development Program at Florida International University (FIU) made a huge impact on him.

“I say without hesitation that this was one of the more well-developed programs I have ever attended,” JacAngelo said. “FIU didn’t spare anything in bringing talented experts to enhance our leadership skills. Those five days are irreplaceable.”

Participants graph their “Life Journey” to understand how the events in their life influence their leadership style.

JacAngelo was among 29 school principals attending the five-day program held in June, a collaboration of FIU’s Center for Leadership in the College of Business Administration and Miami-Dade County Public Schools, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Under the guidance of faculty director Paul Gallagher, senior vice-president emeritus, FIU, principals from each of the six regions of Miami-Dade County Public Schools learned how to incorporate FIU’s leadership research in their work with students, teachers and staff.

Intense five days of learning and yearlong follow-up.

Sessions presented participants with decision-making tools; information on health, nutrition and fitness; team building activities; self-reflection (personality and values); research on change management; and communication enhancers.

Mick Smith, FIU’s head strength and conditioning trainer, teaches participants how to incorporate physical fitness into their everyday lives.

“What I learned will help me tremendously as an educational leader as well as on a personal level,” said Verena Cabrera, principal of Hialeah Senior High.

As a key component of the program, the principals developed action plans.

“The specific plan I developed during my one-on-one coaching session is a valuable takeaway to help me set and achieve goals for my school,” JacAngelo said.

The principals practice team building while strategizing to solve a puzzle.

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

“The principals who participated were an exceptional group of leaders,” he said. “Based on their own evaluations of the program, however, we believe that the program succeeded in helping and motivating them to rise to an even higher level.”

The center’s educators will be in regular contact with participants who will also attend two additional one-day workshops, in the fall and spring.

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