Alone in the Hot Seat: Mentoring Assistant Principals

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Title: Alone in the Hot Seat: Mentoring Assistant Principals
Author: Palermo, James Michael
Advisors: Dr. Kenneth Brinson, Committee Chair
Dr. Peter Hessling, Committee Member
Dr. Joseph Peel, Committee Member
Dr. Alan Reiman, Committee Member
Abstract: Mentoring is a useful tool in the induction of any new professional. However there has been only limited research in the mentoring of new principals or assistant principals, and few school districts have induction or mentoring programs for novice assistant principals. This study examines one aspect of a mentoring program for new assistant principals in a large southeastern school district. It is an intrinsic case study of novice assistant principals' perceptions of the mentoring relationship and its formation. Data was collected through focus groups of mentors and novices, observations of assistant principal mentors meeting with novice assistant principals, and interviews with a sample of novices and mentors. Following data collection, findings were cross-validated with a survey of the larger cohort of novice assistant principals (n=32). Findings affirm earlier research with principals (NAESP, 2003; Playko, 1990). Novice assistant principals described the mentoring relationship as 'helpful' and 'supportive,' however they stated that time and proximity were barriers to the formation of a 'close, personal relationship.' Some novices sought out mentors in their own buildings and tapped cohorts from their Masters in School Administration programs for support. Future research is suggested in the development of the mentoring relationship, to examine both the mechanics of the process and the interpersonal skills necessary to create and sustain a positive mentoring relationship. Though there are no claims of generalizability from this intrinsic case study it appears that the perceptions of novice assistant principals share common characteristics with the perceptions of principals that mentoring is a benefit during the induction of new administrators. Given the future need for instructional leaders for our schools and the rapid succession of many assistant principals into the principalship, school districts are encouraged to consider the modest investment necessary to implement a mentoring program for new assistant principals and principals.
Date: 2004-04-09
Degree: EdD
Discipline: Educational Administration and Supervision

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