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Monday, April 16, 2012

From the Lab and the Field, They Launch

From the Lab and the Field, They Launch

By Dr. Ryan Donlan
Assistant Professor
Department of Educational Leadership
Bayh College of Education
Indiana State University

Last week, I had the privilege of helping a handful of my colleagues conduct our own version of graduate-school Pomp and Circumstance for a group of 34 Principal Interns taking launch from their ISU classroom laboratories and the fields of Internship beyond, to become the next generation of American school leaders. 

With the sharing of their capstone experiences and bidding a fair adieu, our Interns are now finishing their 2011-2012 school years, many in teaching positions, some as counselors, and a few in leadership positions that they have enjoyed concurrent to their final coursework. 

So what’s to become of them?

One or two have confided in us that although they are prepared effectively for service, building leadership is not yet where they see next year’s calling. They would like to stay a while longer in classrooms with "unfinished business," they mention, and a few more students to save. A few have increased their interest in reviewing website postings for leadership opportunity.  Many, however, are ambitious, indeed, with resumes primed, relocation's mapped, and interviews scheduled.  We are getting calls for references.  What an exciting time!

No matter how our graduating Interns differ with respect to their career pathways or immediate “next steps,” they all share commonalities that I have found to be refreshing indicators of the substantive screening, rigorous coursework, and relevant community engagement offered by Indiana State University’s Department of Educational Leadership in our Bayh College of Education. 

These indicators are as follows:

1.    Our students know leadership and stand comfortably in two domains, one of practitioners and the other, theorists. They have intellectual horsepower, a power-of-mind, as well as a healthy turn-of-mind, the ability to handle complexity amidst ambiguity.
2.   Our students know themselves; they are comfortable in their own skin and can clearly articulate what they think, feel, and believe about themselves and their professional arenas.  They with voice and are deepening their wisdom.
3.    Our students thrive on the changes in education in Indiana and the Midwest and embrace the whirlwind of redesign presenting itself to the K-12 system.  They are nimble, flexible, and open … grounded in positive values with a belief that they are only as good as their next day’s best work.
4.   Our students want to commit and do not wish to define themselves part of any revolving door of the American Principalship (or eventually the QVC of the American Superintendency). They are not to be traded, bought, or sold and wish to advance in their careers with open communication, loyalty, and transformational opportunity.
5. Our students embody the National Policy Board for Educational Administration’s Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC) Standards. They have honed their abilities as leaders through experiences with the concepts embedded in that great body of work.
6.   Our students thrive on lifelong learning and partner with those who teach them.  They expect excellence from themselves and others and “step-up” when handling the most challenging of responsibilities.
7.  Our students value the skills they are receiving through higher education as diagnosticians of learning, transcending any notions of quick credentialing in a competitive career arena. They desired advanced degrees for the sake of knowledge and efficacy.
8.   Our students serve as ambassadors of leadership through deeds and determination, not simply through the authority of decrees or directives. 
9.    Our students see the good in people, even in those who have given us reason to doubt.  As humanists, they are genuine.
10. Our students live in a way that demonstrates they are good to the core and kind of the soul, people whom I would wish upon my own children’s as their school leaders.

Indiana State University graduates are entering a competitive arena where only the best deserve an opportunity to lead or nation's schools.  Given that responsibility and reality, we anticipate a summer in which a large number of school corporations, statewide and beyond, will be as fortunate to have these fine men and women on board as new leaders, as we in the Department of Educational leadership were to have them as students.

From the proving ground of the lab and the field, let us offer “congratulations” to those hiring our Class of 2012!  We offer our most heartfelt well-wishes, likewise, to our students, for finding such outstanding new communities in which they can truly make a difference.


Dr. Ryan Donlan can be reached at or at (812) 237-8624.  You can also follow him on or via his Twitter name @RyanDonlan.  He encourages your feedback and commentary on his articles on this Blog.

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