A new partnership with Northern Arizona University is leading to the expansion of the Rodel Principal Initiative to include recognition of Rodel Exemplary Principal mentors and Aspiring Principal mentees in Coconino County. The Rodel Principal Initiative has previously named Exemplary Principals from Maricopa, Pima, Pinal, and Yuma Counties.

“Great leaders aren’t born, they are made. We believe that, with the right training and a solid network, exceptional school leaders can be developed in every community in Arizona,” said Howard Paley, Rodel Chief Operating Officer. “Expanding Rodel’s Principal Initiative to Flagstaff is an opportunity to develop local leaders who will benefit from our existing statewide network of talented principals and administrators.”

Rodel, in partnership with Social Venture Partners of Arizona, developed the Rodel Exemplary Principal Initiative to recognize outstanding school principals and populate a pipeline of highly skilled school leaders for Arizona schools in high-need communities. Each cohort of Exemplary Principals provides professional development, field experience, and ongoing mentorship to a class of Rodel Aspiring Principals for two years. After learning from the best, these Aspiring Principals are better prepared to lead their own high-need schools. Rodel Aspiring Principals are selected each spring to participate in a two-year partnership. Since the program’s inception, 58 Exemplary Principals have mentored over 175 Aspiring Principals; of those, one third are currently leading their own Arizona schools.

“One cannot underestimate the power of strong leadership—good school administrators are the key to highly performing schools,” said Ramona Mellott, Dean of the College of Education at Northern Arizona University. “There is strong research evidence that supports the contributions school leadership makes to student achievement. NAU’s strong educational leadership programs prepare highly competent professionals committed to making a difference in the lives of our children and our schools. NAU has proudly partnered with the Rodel Foundation to support the Teacher Initiative since 2008. We are pleased to be part of this expansion and support the Rodel Principal Initiative.”

This expansion is an evolution of the partnership between Rodel and Northern Arizona University, who have supported Rodel’s Teacher Initiative in Flagstaff since 2008. Similar to the Rodel Principal Initiative, the Teacher Initiative partnership has sponsored 16 Flagstaff Rodel Exemplary Teachers who have mentored 63 Rodel Promising Student Teachers during their student teaching field experience (and beyond).

Invitations to nominate Rodel Exemplary Principals were sent to Flagstaff superintendents and school directors, who submitted their most successful principals as candidates. The 2016 Rodel Exemplary Principals will be announced in early January through media partnerships and at Aspiring Principals may apply for the program in January and must be either a graduate or currently enrolled in a degree program at Northern Arizona University to partner with a Flagstaff Rodel Exemplary Principal.


The Rodel Foundation of Arizona’s vision is for Arizona to have one of the best pre-kindergarten through grade 12 educational systems in the country by 2020. For more information on the Foundation’s mission and initiatives, contact Rodel at 480-367-2920 or visit