Neag School Launches New Educational Leadership Program for School Principals in the Middle East

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While the number of global learning opportunities for current Neag School students continues to expand, the School will now be offering yet another type of internationally based program — one designed to serve practicing school principals based in the Middle Eastern country of Jordan.

Launched last month as a partnership between the Neag School’s Department of Educational Leadership and the nonprofit Queen Rania Teacher Academy (QRTA), along with the Jordanian Ministry of Education, the Advanced Instructional Leadership Training Program (AILTP) enables QRTA to offer a certification program designed to advance the leadership skills of public school principals.

Thirty-seven public school principals from Jordan started the three-year, professional diploma program in May. QRTA intends to expand the program to private schools in the next few months. According to AILTP director and coach Diane D. Ullman, the program ultimately aims to enroll 350 Jordanian public school principals by the end of the three-year project.

“Good principals encourage teachers and unleash their full potential. They create a community where teachers learn from one another.” — Diane D. Ullman, Advanced Instructional Leadership Training Program director

Research-Based Training

“The overarching goal of the Advanced Instructional Leadership Training Program is to give practicing principals in Jordan the advanced leadership skills needed to improve student performance at scale,” says Richard Gonzales, director of the Educational Leadership Preparation Programs at the Neag School.

“Jordan has a long-standing commitment to improving primary and secondary education and a firm belief that an educated populate is the key to peace and prosperity,” adds Gonzales. “The Ministry of Education in Jordan, the Queen Rania Teacher Academy, and UConn are committed to working together to fulfill this deep and enduring commitment. The AILTP is an integral part of this endeavor.”

The training program — led by the UConn Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP) and funded by Global Affairs Canada — is based in large part on research demonstrating that high-quality, school-level leadership is a key factor in creating a healthy school environment for students, teachers, and parents, as well as in raising student achievement.

“For the University, this project provides recognition as we share the good work of a highly rated and very successful educational leadership program with others halfway around the world,” says Kelly Lyman, QRTA instructor and superintendent of Mansfield Public Schools in Mansfield, Conn.

Getting Started

“One of the primary commonalities I see in education throughout the world is that successful schools have successful principals,” says AILTP director Ullman, who also serves as UCAPP’s program advisor. “Good principals encourage teachers and unleash their full potential. They create a community where teachers learn from one another.”

She adds, however, that “student achievement on international assessments is lagging in spite of years of effort to improve the schools. The Ministry [of Education in Jordan] has invested significant resources and worked with many international experts in order to improve the public schools, but to date, these efforts have not produced the gains that the Ministry is looking for.”

In response, AILTP is taking UCAPP’s “best content and concepts,” Ullman says, and putting them into a Middle Eastern context in an effort to advance the skills of school principals in Jordan and, ultimately, improve student performance.

The program is the end result of a professional relationship Ullman developed with Mary Tadros, now advising consultant with QRTA, whom Ullman met while attending an international school evaluation visit for New England Association of Schools and Colleges. As the two discussed the importance of highly skilled principals to school success, the possibility of bringing the Neag School’s UCAPP program to Jordan emerged.

“Mary was a key force in establishing [the partnership with] QRTA,” says Ullman.

Enhancing Education

According to QRTA’s website, “Teachers in Jordan are under-resourced, under-supported and disconnected from one another. Most of the students’ learning experience at schools consists of routine learning, and students are under-performing in international test assessments in math, science, and literacy.”

QRTA, established in 2009, seeks to raise the quality of teaching in Jordan by developing the skills of educators through continuous training and professional development.

“QRTA seeks to enhance the education in Jordan and in the region, empowering individuals who work in the education fields with the needed skills,” says Eman Alzghoul, a QRTA trainer.

AILTP is based on the Connecticut Standards for School Leaders, the U.S. Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) Standards and the Jordanian Standards for School Leaders. The Public Education Leadership Project (PELP) framework, which originated in 2003 at Harvard University, provides the conceptual framework for the program.

AILTP’s four modules — School Culture and Climate; Curriculum Laboratory; Supervision, Evaluation, and Professional Development; and School and Program Management — are based on UCAPP core content that has been adapted to the culture and context of Jordan.

Though the content of each module continues to be fine-tuned, feedback from participants in the first module has been positive, according to Ullman.

“The participants were lively students, very excited to be involved in the program, and grateful for the instruction. The Jordanian educators we have met are extremely committed to their work,” says QRTA instructor Lyman. “This partnership allows us to share and train others in the best practices in school administration that are in use in Connecticut.”

Learn more about the University of Connecticut Administrator Preparation Program at the Neag School at