Kentucky businesses provide ‘game-changing’ leadership training for school principals

  • More than $1 million pledged

    By Dave Adkisson, Kentucky Chamber President and CEO

    If there is one area where businesses and schools need exactly the same thing, it is competent leadership.

    The importance of strong leadership is clear to the business community. Motivated, well-trained leaders drive success and get results. Organizations without strong leaders falter.

    Kentucky’s schools aren’t any different. As CEOs of their schools, principals play an essential role in motivating teachers and improving the academic performance of students, and they face growing pressures on multiple fronts. A study by the Stanford Educational Leadership Institute concluded that “principals are in the hot seat to improve teaching and learning.”

    “They need to be educational visionaries, instructional and curriculum leaders, assessment experts, disciplinarians, community builders, public relations experts, budget analysts, facility managers, special programs administrators and expert overseers of legal, contractual and policy mandates and initiatives,” the study said. “They are expected to broker the often-conflicting interests of parents, teachers, students, district office officials, unions and state and federal agencies, and they need to be sensitive to the widening range of student needs.”

    Those sound like the same demands put on CEOs in business!

    Principals who can even come close to meeting these demands need strong leadership training – just like high performers in the business community. That reality – and its implications for Kentucky’s future growth and prosperity – prompted the Kentucky Chamber Foundation to create the Leadership Institute for School Principals.

    To deliver top-quality training, the Foundation has developed a strategic partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership, a top-ranked global provider of executive leadership training.

    We began last summer by investing $400,000 to send 47 principals from across the Commonwealth to a three-day training session in Greensboro, N.C., and to four days of training at the Kentucky Chamber headquarters in Frankfort. The reviews have been outstanding, with principals telling us they had never had such a valuable training experience during their careers.

    “The Leadership Institute was the single most effective professional development experience in which I have ever participated,” said Jeff Jennings, principal of Butler County Middle School. “When I left Greensboro, I had a solid plan of action that will have a positive impact on student achievement.”

    Principals receive the training free of charge. Kentucky’s business community is providing the $9,000-per-person funding for the program.

    To date, Chamber members across the state have pledged more than $1 million toward the institute, which we expect to continue for at least the next five years. Both large and small businesses are giving their support. These include LG&E and KU, UPS, Maker’s Mark, Alliance Resources, Booth Energy of Inez, Computer Services, Inc. of Paducah, and Toyota and dozens of small companies like English Lucas Priest and Owsley of Bowling Green, Harper Industries of Paducah and Planters Bank of Hopkinsville. The Rotary Club in Cadiz also stepped up to sponsor a principal from Trigg County.

    Contributing businesses designate which counties they support, and only principals from those counties can be selected to attend the program. Although more than $1 million has been raised, the Chamber Foundation is still hoping to receive donations from all 120 counties to ensure all principals in Kentucky are eligible. Our goal is to make a blanket offer to all new principals – after they’ve been in office one year – to have this leadership experience.

    More information, including the list of counties that still need sponsors,  is available on the institute’s website, We hope that other employers will step up to make this program – described as a “game changer” for Kentucky education – available to principals in every county of the state. You can call or email Kelly Wolf, 502-695-4700, [email protected], to find out how.

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    Thursday, February 9, 2012

© Kentucky Chamber of Commerce · 464 Chenault Road · Frankfort, KY 40601 · (502) 695-4700