Department of Public Instruction introduces principal apprenticeships initiative

Published: Jul. 21, 2023 at 4:36 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - A good leader can make all the difference in a school setting. That’s why the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction is introducing a principal apprenticeship program.

At Pioneer Elementary School in Bismarck, Christopher Narum had on-the-job training before becoming a principal and he’s said it’s made all the difference.

“I think in general, anybody in a school building can be a leader. You can lead from any position, whether you’re a custodian or a teacher, but I think just giving more opportunities for people to be able to jump into roles where they are learning alongside an active administrator,” said Narum.

The North Dakota State Superintendent said they’re trying to be proactive to help overcome the shortage of principals in the state.

“So, the number one factor on predicting student outcomes and impact on student outcomes, student academic outcomes, as we all know is the teacher — the quality of the teacher and the effectiveness of the teacher. But just behind that is the effectiveness of the building principle,” said Kirsten Baesler, state school superintendent and administrator of the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

With better leadership, she believes other school employees will be easier to retain as well.

“Most importantly, the quality and their ability to be that instructional leader that our teachers need them to be... will actually help reduce the number of teachers that are choosing to leave the teaching profession. So they go hand in hand in teacher recruitment and retention as well,” said Baesler.

The principal apprenticeship program is funded through federal grants. DPI is looking to get more funding from the Department of Labor to help cover costs for candidates during their training.

This fall, candidates for the program will go to five different school districts of all sizes to start hands-on learning.