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Linn-Mar Community School District: Improved Instructional Leadership with School Administration Managers

Linn-Mar Community School District
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Linn-Mar CSD’s principals spent the majority of their time overseeing students during non-instructional times, handling student discipline and behavioral issues, supervising non-teaching staff, dealing with facilities management issues, and interacting with parents regarding non-instructional matters.

The district implemented a program that would allow principals to focus more on instructional leadership. Funded by The Wallace Foundation, the national School Administration Managers (SAM) Innovation Project was developed to allow principals to make instructional leadership a priority. After piloting the program, it is now fully implemented into each of Linn-Mar CSD’s elementary buildings.

Linn-Mar’s school administration managers are now the first responders for important school tasks that have little to do with instructional learning. They manage all school scheduling, special events, field trips, cafeterias, transportation, maintenance, playgrounds and cleaning. They develop student management systems to monitor and improve attendance and enforce discipline plans.

The principals can then use their teaching experience and leadership training to improve the instructional relationships they have with students and teachers. Principals conduct classroom walk-throughs, coach and evaluate teachers, provide staff development opportunities, lead student discussions, collect data on classroom practices, and foster a collaborative culture.

Since bringing school administration managers into Linn-Mar’s elementary schools, the principals’ focus on instructional leadership has already increased from 20 to 25 percent to 55 to 60 percent. This has added the equivalent of up to two days each week in instructional leadership time.

“All of our elementary principals have invaluable experience in classroom teaching,” said Superintendent Katie Mulholland. “Now our principals have more time to make instructional connections and share their experience and leadership training with teachers and students.”

In recognition of the innovation and success of this initiative, Linn-Mar Community School District has been named a District of Distinction by District Administration. Linn-Mar was among 62 districts that were honored in the March 2015 round of Districts of Distinction, the magazine’s national recognition program for K12 school districts.

“We are pleased to honor Linn-Mar as a District of Distinction,” says JD Solomon, editorial director at District Administration magazine. “Like all our honorees, Linn-Mar Community School District serves as a model for school leaders across the country.”