'Principal residency' program aims to train future principals through real-life experience

 

Walking through the halls of Ramos Elementary School, Juliet Saba is taking big steps toward her future.

"I learned I wanted to become a principal after teaching for a few years," said Saba, an administrative intern.

Saba taught in the Allentown School District for a few years and then left the classroom to get her master's and principal certification at Lehigh University, which is how she became one of the first members of the new "principal residency" program.

"You're seeing what the principal does from the moment she walks into the building to the moment she leaves," said Saba.

Saba is shadowing Ramos Elementary Principal Marybeth Kornfeind-Ralston for the school year, part of the residency program.

"This is a good way for her to see it and experience the ins and outs, what happens every day," said Kornfeind-Ralston.

"Because you're dealing with so many aspects of the school, you're getting a real hands-on feel for everything she handles," said Saba.

From working with teachers and students, to the administrative side of the job, the program is meant to train future principals through real-life experience.

"When they go and have their first job in a school they're ready on day one, they're not learning on the job," said Craig Hochbein, associate professor at Lehigh University.

Hochbein helped secure the grant money from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to make this program and Saba's dream possible.

"I hope to become a principal in the Allentown School District," said Saba.

"I think it's wonderful, I wish the program was in existence when I was becoming a principal," said Kornfeind-Ralston.