What Rodel Exemplary Principals Do

Mike Andersen, Rodel Exemplary PrincipalExemplary Principals mentor Aspiring Principals over a two-year period and participate in Rodel-led seminars that help them develop the strategies and tactics needed to lead an effective school in Arizona, while also providing them with the opportunity to build and maintain a network of similarly qualified leaders that can provide support and guidance throughout their careers. Training is focused on establishing the leadership skills necessary to create schools and classrooms in which students are learning at a high level. Future administrators learn how to create a positive school culture, how to identify and evaluate highly effective teachers, how to develop collaborative classrooms, how they can incorporate parent support, and how to train and monitor teachers as they utilize data to support instruction. Survey data and an independent evaluation reveal Aspiring Principals are better prepared for the challenge of successfully leading schools in Arizona.

Click on the images to view the profiles for the 2016 Rodel Exemplary Principals.

Rodel Exemplary Principal Perks

A Rodel Exemplary Principal receives recognition for making measurable differences in the lives of students, staff and the local community. In addition to receiving an honorarium for their distinction, Exemplary Principals will be recognized through our partnerships with local media as well as through Rodel’s social media outlets. More importantly, the Exemplary Principals who are selected have the opportunity to give back to the next generation of school leaders by sharing their expertise and experiences through differentiated and targeted mentoring opportunities.

How Rodel Exemplary Principals Are Selected

  • Researchers at Rodel review the last three years of achievement data for principals working in high-need schools that have a minimum of 50% of their students receiving Free or Reduced Price Lunch. Researchers identify schools with a history of high student achievement and invite superintendents or charter holder representatives to nominate principals based on the Selection Criteria.
  • Superintendent nominations are carefully reviewed by Rodel’s selection committee and semifinalists are selected. School observations and interviews are arranged with these semifinalists to look for evidence of effective leadership practices.
  • Rodel’s selection committee visits each semifinalist. The site visits include interviews with the principal and selected staff members, a campus tour, and classroom walkthroughs.
  • The selection committee reviews their observations and narrows the field to a prestigious group of finalists.
  • Finalists are invited to a working session so that the Rodel selection committee may get to know each of them as they spotlight their school’s successes with their peers.
  • Following the working session, the committee determines which finalists will be recognized as Rodel Exemplary Principals and asked to mentor future school leaders.
  • Each cohort of Rodel Exemplary Principals is announced in January. They are recognized through Rodel and our media partners for their dedication to improving Arizona’s public education system.

Rodel Exemplary Principal Selection Criteria

Superintendents may nominate candidates who:

  • have served a minimum of three years as a principal and are currently at a school where 50 percent or more of the students are eligible for participation in the free or reduced-price school lunch program (FRL% of feeder schools may be considered to determine program qualification);
  • have a documented history of high student achievement, as measured by required summative assessment data, for a minimum of three years;
  • ensure a safe campus environment that supports a respectful culture focused on teaching and learning;
  • utilize data to guide instruction and decisions regarding staff development;
  • actively engage parents and the community in the education of their child;
  • indicate a commitment to remain an active administrator for a minimum of two additional years;
  • demonstrate the ability to successfully develop and inspire others; and
  • have the skill-set and a strong desire to mentor and train aspiring principals.


Program Timeline – 2016 Rodel Exemplary Principals

Click on the month tabs below for detailed information about the nomination and selection timeline for Rodel Exemplary Principal candidates.

August 2015

  • Nomination materials for Rodel Exemplary Principals are solicited via email to superintendents and charter holders of Rodel-identified districts.

September 2015

  • Deadline for submitting Rodel Exemplary Principal nominations and data to Rodel.

October 2015

  • Rodel evaluates nominations and school-level data collected during the nomination process and from the Arizona Department of Education.
  • Rodel notifies semifinalists and their superintendents that they will receive a site visit and interview with the observation team.

November 2015

  • Rodel Exemplary Principal Semifinalist campus tours, classroom walkthroughs, and interviews take place.

December 2015

  • Finalists are notified of their status and are asked to complete Finalist Profiles to be submitted to Rodel.
  • Finalists are invited to a reception and/or are contacted for interviews with their local news organization.

January 2016

  • Rodel’s Finalist profiles and press release are distributed.
  • Rodel Exemplary Principals are announced.

February 2016

  • Rodel Exemplary Principal Orientation Seminar takes place.

May 2016

  • Newly named Rodel Exemplary Principals will be recognized at the Celebration of Excellence Awards Event.

Rodel Exemplary Principal Mentoring Responsibilities

During their two-year commitment, a Rodel Exemplary Principal will:

  • attend all required Rodel training seminars. Seminars are held throughout the school year with an attempt to keep campus disruption to a minimum. Generally, Rodel schedules four to five trainings annually;
  • mentor and support the assigned cohort of Aspiring Principals;
  • develop and present at Aspiring Principal professional development seminars;
  • host school visits and other mentorship events for Aspiring Principals, and
  • initiate and support consistent contact and constructive feedback to Aspiring Principals.


Why We Need Principal Mentors

The purpose of our education system is to guide students to reach their highest achievement potential. We can ensure the success of our students by ensuring our leaders are efficient and highly effective from day one. Student achievement gains are heavily influenced by school leadership. Effective administrators guide schools toward better achievement regardless of which curriculum materials, pedagogical approaches, or reading programs are selected. The bottom line is good leaders make a difference.

One way a school leader affects student achievement is by creating a school culture focused on learning and high expectations.[1]The school leader affects the quality of the instructional staff through hiring decisions, continuous monitoring of teacher effectiveness, and professional development opportunities.[2] Districts may recognize this need for professional development for their teachers yet, despite the critical role of principals, many districts have not created a pipeline of prospective future leaders by creating development opportunities from within their district. This has a greater impact on high-poverty schools because schools in these high-need communities are more likely to be led by principals who are weaker on various quality measures (including leadership ratings from staff and years of experience) than those in lower poverty schools.[3],[4]

Research shows that merely talking about improved leadership does not improve leadership. Actions must be taken to strengthen school leadership. Actions can be broken down into four key areas:

  • State and district education leadership policies must work in harmony.
  • District leaders need to support strong principal leadership.
  • Top-notch principals are a must for school improvement.
  • Better training is necessary to ensure better principals.[5]

We must not wait for great leaders to suddenly emerge. We must prepare potential leaders and offer opportunities for leadership and professional development in order for districts to more easily identify new leaders as opportunities arise.


[1] Murphy, Joseph, Stephen Elliott, Ellen Goldring, and Andrew Porter (2006). Learning-Centered Leadership: A Conceptual Foundation. New York: The Wallace Foundation.

[2] Papa, Frank, Hamilton Lankford, and James Wyckoff (2003). Hiring Teachers in New York’s Public Schools: Can the Principal Make a Difference? Albany: University at Albany, State University of New York.

[3] Clotfelter, C., Ladd, H., Vigdor, J., & Wheeler, J. (2007). High-Poverty Schools and the Distribution of Teachers and Principals (Working Paper 1). Washington, D.C.: National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER), Urban Institute. Retrieved February 19, 2010, from http://www.caldercenter.org/PDF/1001057_High_Poverty.pdf.

[4] Horng, Eileen, Demetra Kalogrides, and Susanna Loeb. (2009). Principal Preferences and the Unequal Distribution of Principals Across Schools. CALDER Working Paper No. 36. Washington, D.C.: National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research.

[5] Murphy, Joseph, Stephen Elliott, Ellen Goldring, and Andrew Porter (2006). Learning-Centered Leadership: A Conceptual Foundation. New York: The Wallace Foundation.