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Guiding Principals

December 15, 2003

John Horn ’83, M.A.T. ’90, principal of Portland’s Kelly Elementary School, arrives at work around 6:30 a.m. and often doesn’t leave until 12 hours later. His job requires him to be a planner, a negotiator, an arbitrator of disputes—and, in his spare time, a visionary leader.

“Principals can sometimes feel isolated,” says Horn. “We need to be able to talk with others who understand the demands of our work.” That’s where the Principals’ Center at Lewis & Clark’s Graduate School of Education comes in.

This outreach program coordinated by the educational administration department provides avenues for discussion, continuing education, and professional development. It is modeled after the Principals’ Center at Harvard University, founded by noted educator and author Roland Barth.

“Our commitment was to create a center that was more about practice than place,” says Tom Ruhl, associate professor of educational administration and founder of Lewis & Clark’s program. “I was determined to help my peers maintain their vitality.”

Principal John Horn ‘83, M.A.T. ‘90 reads to students at Portland’s Kelly Elementary School.

Aided by a Ford Family Foundation grant, the center now sponsors eight active and developing partnerships in rural areas—from the little town of Nyssa, located near the Idaho border, to the southwestern coastal town of Bandon. And Ruhl plans to establish a dozen more regional hubs throughout the state, some in urban areas, where principals often experience stress from issues such as media scrutiny rather than seclusion.

In November, the Principals’ Center rolled out an interactive Web site. Facilitated by a retired principal who leads discussions and “stirs the pot,” the site enables principals to share ideas with their colleagues online.

—by Gwenn Stover

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