NAU's American Indian School Leadership Project continues to prepare participants for administrative roles in Indian-serving schools.

NAU’s American Indian School Leadership Project continues to prepare participants for administrative roles in Indian-serving schools.

Northern Arizona University has received a $1 million grant from the Department of Education to prepare American Indian educators for principalships in Indian-serving schools.

The four-year grant will provide additional funding for NAU’s American Indian School Leadership project, an initiative designed to train American Indian teachers and improve schools on Indian reservations.

Since 1998, NAU’s College of Education has certified more than 100 American Indian teachers to serve as principals in Indian-serving schools throughout the country. While past participants received a principal certificate, the new award provides American Indian teachers the opportunity to earn a master’s degree in educational leadership and paves the way for a principalship at a regional school.

“Principals assume a myriad of responsibilities that are important in running a school, but many of these duties are not essential to improving student achievement,” said Joseph Martin, principal investigator on the grant. “There is a critical need for aspiring Indian principals to receive training that prepares them to lead improved instruction and school change, not just manage budgets and buildings.”

With the dropout rate for Indian students at more than 40 percent, he added, the need for strong but appropriately focused principal leadership is key. The project seeks to meet such challenges and provide for student success by focusing on instructional and culturally responsive leadership and assessment literacy.

“There are no documented instances of high need schools being turned around without intervention by a strong leader. Many other factors may play a role, but leadership is key,” Martin said.

The program begins in January and expects to add 25 K-12 principals by 2017 to serve in schools on the Hopi, San Carlos, White Mountain and Diné communities and Navajo Technical College.

For program information contact Joseph Martin at Joseph.Martin@nau.edu.