W.Va. Superintendent Delivers Keynote to Principal Academy Graduates

April 18, 2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools James Phares on Thursday delivered the keynote address during the final meeting of the 2012 - 2013 Principals' Leadership Academy (PLA) for New Principals. The session served as a graduation for the 114 school administrators who have participated in the academy provided by the West Virginia Center for Professional Development (WVCPD). PLA is scheduled for April 17 - 18 at the Stonewall Jackson Resort and Conference Center in Roanoke, W.Va., with activities concluding with Phares' address.

Dr. Phares at PLA

Phares stops for a photo with Tony Minney and Kyre-Anne Minney, a husband and wife who are both new principals.

Dr. Phares at PLA

Phares speaks to the 2012-2013 class of Principals' Leadership Academy for New Principals graduates. He stressed the need for the administrators to strike a balance to be effective in their roles as instructional leaders.

PLA for New Principals is a state-mandated, year-long professional development experience for West Virginia's new principals and assistant principals. WVCPD provides three, two-day sessions to assist these administrators transition into their roles as instructional leaders. Participants also have ongoing access to team leaders and colleagues through an online wiki designed specifically for their use. Teams address critical issues such as school culture, student achievement and school safety, among others. The academy is considered important because it provides principals and assistant principals opportunities to learn the complex task of school leadership from both talented educators and researchers.

"We were pleased to have Dr. Phares with us to share his vision for school leadership in West Virginia," said Emily Papadopoulos, director of Principal Programs for WVCPD. "He understands the challenges of the principal's position well and can provide both encouragement and instruction."

Phares, a former school teacher, principal and county superintendent, understands the important role school administrators play in student achievement and school performance. As state superintendent, he has emphasized the need for principals and assistant principals to participate in the continuous renewal of skills in order to be prepared and effective in their roles. During his keynote, Phares spoke to the graduates about the need to strike a balance in their roles as principals and assistant principals.

"In today's educational environment, there are great demands placed on schools and on principals," Phares said. "New principals approach each task with endless energy and a desire to make a difference. Yet they will inevitably hit an invisible wall and become overwhelmed and out of balance. It is so important that educational leaders maintain balance so that all of their efforts to make positive changes are successful."

As part of the final meeting, principals also presented action research projects that they have worked on during the year. The projects address issues at their schools. The Academy met in September at Glade Springs in Daniels, and in December in Charleston. For details, please contact Christy Day, director of communications of WVCPD, at 304-558-0539 (office) or 304-389-6766 (mobile).

The West Virginia Center for Professional Development is one of six agencies within the Office of Education and the Arts, Kay Goodwin, cabinet secretary. It was established in 1991 by legislative code to provide professional development for state educators that will increase student academic achievement in the classroom. It facilitates workshops and courses throughout the state and online to ensure principals, teachers, counselors and administrators have the skills necessary to create innovative and positive learning environments for state children.

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