Currently in its fifth year, the Principal Pathway residency program exists to build a bench of high-performing, authentic leaders who serve to fulfill YES Prep’s mission and vision as a potential principal, for elementary and secondary schools.
A graduate of the Principal Pipeline Program, the predecessor of Principal Pathway, and now the Managing Director of Leadership Development at YES Prep, Eileen Galligan shared with us why the Principal Pathway residency program exists and what sets it apart from other similar programs.
Eileen, first let’s begin on the importance of the principal. What impact do they have on student outcomes?
We know that principals impact a lot!
- Hire, develop and retain teachers and leaders
- Set vision, goals and strategy
- Partner with families to create thriving school communities, and
- Determine how funds and resources are used
But to truly understand the large impact these responsibilities have on students, I refer you to a recent report from The Wallace Foundation estimating that—
the impact of replacing a below-average elementary school principal (i.e., one at the 25th percentile of effectiveness) with an above-average principal (i.e., at the 75th percentile) would result in an additional 2.9 months of math learning and 2.7 months of reading learning each year for students in that school.[i]
This is why YES Prep continues to invest in the development of our future and current principals through our Principal Pathway Program.
How does the Principal Pathway residency program work?
The residency is a one-to-two-year paid position that offers individualized development and coaching under the guidance of a campus Lead Principal and the Leadership Development team.
Residents learn by doing and creating a portfolio of resources that can be used once promoted into the principal role. Additionally, the resident cohort participates in a deep study of literature on equity, leadership and instruction throughout the residency that grounds them in the work they do to ensure we increase student achievement.
Residents have an abundance of professional learning activities including a summer induction, midyear intersession, frequent coaching sessions, site visits and experiential learning opportunities.
Five years in, what successes has the program had so far?
Despite all the challenges that have been leveled at schools over the past 2 years, our program boasts some significant outcomes!
- Impact: 18 YES Prep schools are currently led by alumni of the Principal Pathway. 100% of these principals led a campus that earned an A or B rating, if their school was eligible for TEA accountability.
- Persistence: 90% of our alumni are current leaders at YES Prep, either leading a school as a principal or as district leaders.
- Diversity: Over 60% of our alumni and current resident principals identify as Black and/or Latinx, in our commitment to hiring leaders who represent the communities they lead.
There are other programs like the Principal Pathway at other districts or charter school systems. What sets YES Prep’s residency program apart?
As you mentioned, many school districts and charter systems have implemented principal residencies, but there are a few key elements that make our program unique and that we believe have led to our success.
- Grounded in Equity: Our programming requires resident principals to explore every component of school leadership—student achievement, school culture and discipline, programming, finance and resource allocation, operations and systems, staff hiring and development, and college and career readiness—through the lens of equity. By not isolating conversations about equity and inclusion, we aim to develop leaders who build inclusive school communities.
- Human-Centered: Our 1:1 coaching model allows our resident principals to receive targeted coaching and growth opportunities from a Lead Principal. Our Lead Principals are not just experienced, but also have a track record of developing other leaders. During a Resident Principal’s placement at a campus, their Lead Principal is their manager, coach and mentor, meeting with and observing them in their work daily.
- Real Work: Our resident principals do receive between 80 and 100 hours of robust professional development, but more importantly they are doing the real work of leading schools, taking on principal-level work under the guidance of a Lead Principal. Our alumni can draw on lessons learned from their time as a resident so that their first year as principal they have very few “first” experiences.
Eileen, why should an educator interested in becoming a principal apply for the Principal Pathway residency program?
Educators are used to working in a collective. When you are a principal, though, there are decisions that only you can make and you are solely responsible for. Through our residency program, we help build relationships between principals so that they can support each other and discuss items that only a fellow principal would be able to understand. This is especially important for female principals and principals of color.
Our program also cuts down on the unpredictability of the work. When you’ve lived through a school year as a resident principal, when you enter your first year as the leader of your school, the things you face shouldn’t be a surprise to you. This is why our principals thrive and succeed after completing our program.
If you want to learn more about the Principal Pathway residency program, click here.
The application opened November 1, 2022, and we recommend that highly interested candidates apply by December 12, 2022 to be considered for our January interviews.