University Offers New Master's Program for Aspiring Illinois School Principals

Master of Arts in Educational Leadership
The School of Education's new MAEL program begins in July with the first cohort.

Principal endorsement, MAEL program cohort launches July 13

CHICAGO (May 2, 2013) -- This summer, North Park University's School of Education will begin preparing certified teachers to "think like a leader, act like a leader, and be a leader," a phrase that appears throughout its new academic program for aspiring school principals. Beginning July 13, the University will offer a new program that enables a certified teacher to earn a principal endorsement on the new Educator License, and earn a master of arts in educational leadership (MAEL) degree.

The new degree program is a successor to the Type 75 general administrative certificate program, which is being phased out by the State of Illinois, said Dr. Rebecca Nelson, dean of the School of Education and associate professor of education. The new state-approved MAEL program "is absolutely a missional match because preparing people to serve in leadership roles is congruent with North Park's mission," she said. Students who will enter the MAEL program are highly motivated, and want to learn as much as they can about the demanding and complex jobs of school principals, Nelson added.

Meeting in cohorts, students will learn through classroom instruction taught by educators and other professionals, plus an internship experience. While other colleges and universities may offer similar programs to prepare school principals, North Park offers smaller cohorts and individualized support for students in its MAEL program. "Small class sizes during the coursework sessions allow us to have a lot of dialogue, interaction, and feedback," said Dr. Sally Pryor, MAEL program coordinator, and associate professor of education. "During their internships, we go to their schools and meet with them on-site, and in our classes, we discuss what they're learning through their internship experiences." The University's program also provides instruction in ethical leadership, and its instructors are all current or retired public school administrators in Illinois, she added.

MAEL classes will meet on Saturdays, with summer-intensive classes. The program can be completed in 22 to 24 months, including the internship. The first cohort for North Park's MAEL program will start with an accelerated educational leadership course that will meet at the University's Chicago campus on three successive Saturdays: July 13, 20, and 27. That course is intended to provide a foundation for what it means to be an educational leader. Students will also begin to develop a portfolio reflecting experience and achievement, Pryor said.

"The state requires that teachers who enter these programs be able to demonstrate they have had a positive impact on student achievement in two of the last five years of their teaching experience by showing growth," Pryor said. "They must demonstrate they have had leadership opportunities in their teaching positions, and how they've done that."

As part of its MAEL program, the University is working with three Illinois partner schools that helped develop the educational program, and will aid in instruction and the program's ongoing evaluation. The schools are Mary, Seat of Wisdom School, Park Ridge, East Prairie School District 73, Skokie, and Rhodes School District 84.5, River Grove.

Meanwhile, students in the final cohort of the old Type 75 program begin internships this month and are expected to finish no later than June 30, 2014. Sixty people went through North Park's program to earn administrative certificates, Pryor said. North Park students who took the Type 75 exam have all passed. "They're telling us that they feel very well prepared based on what they've learned in the program. They go into interviews with confidence and are able to convey the knowledge and skill they have, as well as the heart to be a principal," she added.

Use @npunews to follow North Park University News on Twitter. For further information or resources, contact John Brooks, Director of Media Relations and News, via email or at (773) 244-5522. Learn more about North Park University.

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