Program is first of its kind in North Dakota


BISMARCK, ND — Fueled by demand from teachers in districts across North Dakota and across the country, the University of Mary is now offering aspiring educators the opportunity to become effective administrators and school leaders through the new School Leadership Institute within the Liffrig Family School of Education and Behavioral Sciences Graduate Program.

Rod Jonas, PhD
Dean, Liffrig Family School of Education and Behavioral Sciences
University of Mary

“In our school administration graduate program, we have noticed a significant increase in teachers from rural school districts who have applied to our program because they have been encouraged to do so from administrators in their school,” said Rod Jonas, PhD, dean of the Liffrig Family School of Education and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Mary. “It is apparent to us that there is a need to help train future school administrators in a way that will help them become better leaders in their schools, particularly in our rural school districts.”

The Liffrig Family School of Education and Behavioral Sciences at Mary answered the call, and as a result, developed the School Leadership Institute program that is designed to accommodate the schedule of fulltime teachers. It can be completed in three years, with students taking online courses during the school year while also participating in an innovative, two-week session on campus each summer.

“We are the first to develop a School Leadership Institute model,” added Jonas. “Our program allows students to earn their master’s of education in elementary or secondary school administration and upon completion and also a North Dakota’s Schools Administrator Credential. Our institute includes a two-week summer residency where candidates learn using an integrated, inquiry-based teaching model that infuses content from three different courses. Candidates will learn from a team of three faculty members in small, seminar-style classes that are designed to help candidates develop subject-mastery knowledge and the leadership skills needed to help them become effective school administrators. Students will also be immersed in action research with other students in the institute to solve current school or student-based problems. Student research will be led by fulltime faculty, but students will work collaboratively in teams to address or find solutions to these problems.”

Jonas says the shortage issue that has engulfed the teaching industry in America over the past decade or so has spread to school administration areas. And what is now a problem in larger cities is an even bigger void in the rural districts because of the high number of retirements and lack of prospective school administrative candidates.

“According to the Institute for Education Statistics, one in five principals working in schools in the 2011-12 school year left their school by the 2012-13 school year,” added Jonas. “Additional research shows that one out of every two principals is not retained beyond their third year of leading a school. This program is designed to help reverse this trend and help aspiring school leaders develop the skills needed to deal with the complexities of today’s school environment. What excites me most is the opportunity to work with these students and help them become successful leaders.”

Application deadline for the program is June 1, 2018, while the two-week summer residency institute is scheduled for July 16 through 27, 2018.

The School Leadership Institute web pageprovides more information about this program and includes a link to a Candidate Interest Survey that must be completed by prospective candidates.