New Principal Mentoring


Why mentoring matters:

  • The principalship is more demanding than ever: Principals are creating the culture, systems, and instructional conditions necessary for all children to achieve at high levels in an economic and social context that is complex, challenging and fraught with inequity for children and families.
  • Nationally, 1 in 4 principals remain in place in a school over a five year period, with 20% of new urban principals leaving the profession within two years (RAND Corporation, 2012).

Principal mentoring can support the development of novice school administrators as instructional leaders and increase principal retention, contributing to greater stability in school reform efforts over time.

Best Practices

In Getting Principal Mentoring Right (2007), the Wallace Foundation suggests these best practices for a district system to consider when putting in place a principal mentoring program:
  • Provide at least one year of support, ideally two or more.
  • Require high-quality training for mentors.
  • Provide funding for training, stipends, and sustained length of meaningful induction.
  • Gather information about efficacy.
  • Maintain clear goals for enabling principals to be leaders of change.

Principal Mentoring Planning Template 

embeds many best practice recommendations and provides a tool for districts to identify what they have in place now and what steps might be taken next.

Annotated Resources

AWSP’s Mentoring Matters Conference Presentation, June 2015 conducted at the annual AWSP/WASA Summer Conference, provides additional rationale for mentoring programs and highlights the Spokane Public Schools model of providing one-on-one experienced, trained principal mentors for each new principal in the district.

Kent School District and Seattle Public Schools Mentor Model Descriptions
While Kent SD trained mentors serve multiple mentees at any one time, Seattle PS Principal Leadership Coaches are fully released to provide full time mentoring.

National Association of Elementary School Principals: National Mentor Training & Certification Center
“Since 2003 NAESP has worked with close to 2,000 mentors across the country as well as globally, to engage highly-skilled and highly-trained mentors in leveraging their experience and expertise to develop new leaders.”

NAESP’s Center for New Principals
NAESP’s center for new K–8 principals provides tips, best practices, webinars and articles organized around the themes of leadership growth and achievement; student growth and achievement; school planning and progress; school culture; instructional leadership; and stakeholder support and engagement. They also provide a Principal Help Line.

NASSP’s Center for New Principals
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) defines “new principals” as those in their first three years or experienced but new to a school. Online resources, discussion forums, and a Help Line are provided for new principals.

The Principal Mentor Network of New Mexico Leadership Institute

While tied to their state licensure requirements, this resource site does include many downloadable documents that can be used as-is or adapted to other contexts.