Member Support

New Principal Mentoring

awsp mentor program

Why Mentoring Matters

  • The principalship is more demanding than ever: Principals are creating the culture, systems, and instructional conditions necessary for all children to achieve at high levels in an economic and social context that is complex, challenging and fraught with inequity for children and families.
  • Nationally, 1 in 4 principals remain in place in a school over a five year period, with 20% of new urban principals leaving the profession within two years (RAND Corporation, 2012).

Principal mentoring can support the development of novice school administrators as instructional leaders and increase principal retention, contributing to greater stability in school reform efforts over time. 

Best Practices

In Getting Principal Mentoring Right (2007), the Wallace Foundation suggests these best practices for a district system to consider when putting in place a principal mentoring program:
  • Provide at least one year of support, ideally two or more.
  • Require high-quality training for mentors.
  • Provide funding for training, stipends, and sustained length of meaningful induction.
  • Gather information about efficacy.
  • Maintain clear goals for enabling principals to be leaders of change.
AWSP’s  Principal Mentoring Planning Template embeds many best practice recommendations and provides a tool for districts to identify what they have in place now and what steps might be taken next. 

The Program

AWSP’s mentoring program is designed to pair new principals with a qualified mentor who has been specially trained by AWSP to support a new principal in their first years of building leadership.

Mentees will receive:

  • 40 hours of 1:1 mentoring (3-4 hours per month),
  • Mentoring focused on skill and talent development, and
  • Enrollment in AWSP’ Launching School Leadership series (Continued Leadership Growth).

Individual mentoring coupled with Launching Principal Leadership will provide a strong foundation that helps to ensure a successful first year of building leadership.

How Do We Request This Support?

District office (superintendent’s office designee or HR) can reach out to AWSP to request mentoring for their newly hired school leader. District support for AWSP Principal Mentoring requires districts to email Gina Yonts or Macy Bruhy and provide the following information:

  1. New School Leader name and building assignment.
  2. Provide Contact information for the district i-Grants Coordinator.
  3. Provide Contact information for the principal’s supervisor.
  4. Ensure the new school leader is registered for Launching School Leadership series (cohort series starts last week of July each summer).

What Happens Next?

AWSP ensures your new school leader is then assigned with an AWSP trained and regional mentor. The district iGrants coordinator will be required to go into the OSPI iGrant portal and create a Principal Mentoring Budget. OSPI will send the dollars to each district for Principal Mentoring stipends, which will be used to pay your new school leader’s mentor.

AWSP does not manage the dollars. However, we are willing to help districts and iGrants coordinators in allocating, trouble-shooting, and insuring payment to AWSP trained mentors is made with as little stress as possible. We want to be sure your new school leaders do not have to worry about the business end of the program. Please feel free to reach out to Gina or Macy if you have questions. We are here to help!

Encourage and Expect/Plan for Follow-Through

We all know how intense the first years of principaling are. Your new school leader will benefit from and need:

  • YOUR encouragement!
  • Support and encouragement to attend the professional learning series they’ve been registered for and be surrounded by other school leaders experiencing the same learning curve…it’s not selfish to keep learning, it’s imperative!
  • A commitment from the district to ensure your new leader is learning and networked with others who are on the same leadership trajectory. Time away from the building to build their skills, check their thinking and to network with other leaders helps to keep them fresh, learning and leading for your system. Engaging in a Professional Learning Network is effective LEADERSHIP SELF CARE!
  • Periodic check-ins post trainings to observe their growth and development as a school leader and to insure they are keeping a work/life balance throughout the first few years.

Your feedback to the new leader as well as AWSP is important. New Sschool leaders need YOU and feedback to them is important to build leadership and connection to your district, their students, staff and families. AWSP is always open to your feedback as well. Surveys are launched throughout the school year to both Mentors and Mentees. End of year surveys on the AWSP Principal Mentor Program will be sent to principal supervisors at the end of each school year. Please hold us accountable to providing what you’ve paid for and let us know how we are doing in supporting your new leadership!

Principal Induction Pilot (NEW Opportunity, Summer 2020)

AWSP continues to partner with OSPI’s Educator Effectiveness division to grow local systems in their ability to hire, mentor, retain and grow quality school leadership. Using the Standards for Beginning Principal Induction, AWSP will offer an opportunity for districts to pilot these standards. 

Annotated Resources

National Association of Elementary School Principals: National Mentor Training & Certification Center

“Since 2003 NAESP has worked with close to 2,000 mentors across the country as well as globally, to engage highly-skilled and highly-trained mentors in leveraging their experience and expertise to develop new leaders.”

NAESP’s Center for New Principals
NAESP’s center for new K–8 principals provides tips, best practices, webinars and articles organized around the themes of leadership growth and achievement; student growth and achievement; school planning and progress; school culture; instructional leadership; and stakeholder support and engagement. They also provide a Principal Help Line.

The Principal Mentor Network of New Mexico Leadership Institute

While tied to their state licensure requirements, this resource site does include many downloadable documents that can be used as-is or adapted to other contexts.


For More Information 

Gina Yonts | Associate Director | (800) 562-6100

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