Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced Friday the 52 principals who will serve in the inaugural class of the Tennessee Rural Principals Network, part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Transforming School Leadership Initiative.
One of those principals is Carmen Blankenship of West Hardin Elementary School in Hardin County.
“This is a great honor for me and a great opportunity to network with other rural principals throughout Tennessee,” she said.
The initiative is described as “a comprehensive approach to improve the preparation, retention, and development of Tennessee’s principals.” The department is also providing funding for scholarships to support professional development for up to 200 additional rural principals.
Principals in rural schools can sometimes be unable to take advantage of leadership development due to the cost of registration and travel and have few networking opportunities to learn from other school leaders. The Education Department is implementing a two-prong approach to address the problem by creating a professional network for 52 rural principals, who will also receive funding to attend state-led conferences and training opportunities, and by providing scholarships for up to 200 additional rural principals to attend state-provided training opportunities.
“When I applied for this program I saw it as an avenue that will not only bring more of Tennessee into Hardin County, but will spotlight Hardin County throughout the state,” Blankenship said.
The participants selected for the Tennessee Rural Principals Network will receive funding to support their attendance and learning at five events during the 2018-19 school year designed to provide them with professional learning aligned to help address those challenges that are unique to rural leadership.
“We must ensure that every school, no matter where it is located in Tennessee, is led by a principal who is supported and developed to his or her fullest potential and able to guide our teachers and students to success,” said McQueen. “The Tennessee Rural Principals Network is an innovative approach to meet the unique needs of school leaders in our rural communities and allow them to grow professionally and learn from one another to ultimately benefit our students.”