Administrators go through Hart District’s first credential training program

Assistant Principal at Placerity Junior High School Marcus Garrett, left, and assistant principal of Hart High School Jennifer Huhn are working their way through the Hart District's Induction Program. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

For the first time, the William S. Hart Union High School District led administrators through a standards-based training program that focused on personal growth, mentorship and hands-on learning.

The Hart District California Administrative Services Credential Induction provided new administrators with a local mentorship program as they worked toward earning their California Clear Credential, which is required by the state.

The two-year program connects participants with an administrative coach and follows six major goals set by the California Professional Standards for Education Leaders.

“The goal is to get administrators to move away from being managers and to act as instructional leaders,” said James Webb, induction director of the Hart Induction Program.  “The focus is on leadership and collaboration.”

In 2015, the Hart District began its Induction Program to offer its administrators a local path to certification through the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC).

As of today, the Hart District is one of only four educational institutions in Los Angeles County to offer the program and successfully complete the CTC accreditation approval process.

“We’re the only one in northern Los Angeles County that offers induction that is approved by the commission,” Webb said.

In less than one month, the first group of individuals from Hart Induction Program—including one Hart District administrator and two Granada Hills Charter School administrators—will be the first group of new administrators to complete the two-year program.

What the program looks like

The main focus of the Hart Administrative Induction Program is the emphasis on the six California Professional Standards for Education Leaders.

These standards are the guide for every decision, program, policy and instruction new administrators implement or make at their schools.

Another important element of the Induction Program is the relationship between new administrators and their administrative coaches, who work within their own districts.

“The work of the coach and the candidate is confidential, meaning that it is only between the two of them, to build trust and to have authentic conversations about practice,” Webb said.

At the end of the two-year training program, each administrator will complete an exit interview and answer questions about their work and learning during their time in the program.

If the administrators successfully complete this exit interview, the Hart District will recommend that they also receive their administrative credential.

Benefits in the local setting

Before the Hart District created their Induction Program, administrators and teachers had to travel out of the area to receive their training at the Los Angeles County Office of Education or at the Ventura County Office of Education.

“Now everything is housed in our district,” Webb said.  “They have similar conversations around the district policies and around student populations whereas before it was hard to have those same conversations.”

Marcus Garrett, a Hart Induction Program participant and assistant principal of Placerita Junior High School, said working with someone within his own district has allowed him to use research from his own school to improve his work as an administrator.

“We use projects we’re working on in our jobs as the subject of our papers and our research,” he said.  “I think it helps us be more authentic with the work we’re doing.”

Jennifer Huhn, assistant principal of Hart High School and Garrett’s administrative coach, said having the program within the Hart District allows school leaders to work toward the district’s overall goals and act as more effective leaders.

“When you go outside of the district to complete a program, the goals might not be matching what you’re doing within your own schools or your own community,” Huhn said.

The relationship is especially helpful for Garrett and Huhn because they see the same students as they move from Placerita Junior High School to Hart High School.

“Having someone at the feeder school is much more beneficial sometimes because I can speak to what kids are doing here and Jen can speak to what they will be experiencing at her site,” Garrett said.

The group also participates in Administrative Induction Academies which gives each administrator a chance to share ideas with other Hart District personnel and develop diverse thoughts and perspectives.

“Growth also comes from having someone that is not on your site that you can speak to,” Garrett said.  “I think it’s super important and super helpful to have someone off site to speak to.”

Implementation at the site level

With the help of Huhn and the Hart Induction Program, Garrett focused his time and effort on developing his school’s programs for English Language Learners.

“Last year I felt like there was a real need for us to improve our connection to families and increase our communication,” Garrett said.  “I don’t know that we’ve made that perfect, but we did definitely see improvement in terms of how that work when we determined how many families were attending meetings on site.”

This year, Garrett focused on developing the organizational aspect of his school so English Language Learners had more access to the general curriculum and designated services so they could improve academically.

“The students’ access to the general curriculum has dramatically increased,” Garrett said.  “That was a direct result of the capsules (standards) telling us what we needed.”

The two also worked on connecting eighth grade English Language Learners to programs available at Hart High, like Padres Unidos in order to bridge a gap between the two school sites.

“English Learners has been a big discussion for us the past two years and it’s something that we’ve discussed,” Huhn said.  “There’s been a lot of collaboration between us.”

Huhn said the new format of the Hart District Administrative Induction Program has allowed administrators to do meaningful work at their schools and create effective forms of leadership.

“It’s been an outstanding experience,” she said.  “Now, you’re this network of highly effective administrators within the Hart District.”

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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