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School principals become students during FIU Center for Leadership training program

MIAMI - Principals from more than two dozen Miami-Dade public schools will learn how to be more effective leaders in their schools and communities this week at a unique training program at FIU.

Florida International University's Center for Leadership's Principals Leadership Development Program (PLDP) was designed by FIU President Emeritus Modesto A. Maidique and his staff to teach proven business practices based on groundbreaking research by FIU, other leading businesses and schools, and management centers around the world. The program was developed through an endowment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for programs that prepare and improve the ability of school leaders to effectively build the positive school culture and climate required to increase teacher retention and improve student achievement in today's urban schools.

The intense weeklong training for 30 selected elementary, middle and high school principals will include in-class exercises, team-building activities, fitness programs and leadership seminars. It also will include courses in self-reflection, strategic planning, conflict resolution, communication, and health and nutrition, among other topics. The training concludes on Friday.

"We have worked hard to put together a program that will build on the excellent leadership skills these principals already possess, and empower them to capitalize on cutting-edge tools to transform their schools and, eventually, the Miami-Dade Public School System," said Maidique, who is the executive director of the Center for Leadership. "Good principals make for good schools and good schools greatly benefit our community."

In addition to the weeklong in-class sessions, principals will also have an opportunity to meet one-on-one with an executive coach to discuss some of the challenges they face in their individual organizations and develop action plans for applying the tools learned during the program back at their schools.

"Effective principals are key to student achievement and grooming the next generation of Miami-Dade leaders," said Dennis Scholl, Knight Foundation's Miami program director and vice president/arts.

All principals in MDCPS are required to take development courses each summer. For these principals, FIU's leadership program will satisfy that requirement. Officials from both the school system and FIU look forward to implementing PLDP as a regular addition to the school system's leadership initiative.

"We are excited about this professional development opportunity for our school leaders," said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. "This is an incredible partnership with FIU - one that will benefit our teachers, students, and communities as our principals continue to build on their knowledge of world-class school leadership strategies."