Providing the time and space for school leaders to process challenges and become equipped with the resources and skills to solve them.


The most important factor in the success of a school is the effectiveness of the school leader. MCESA focuses on collaborating with school leaders to identify and solve the challenges that keep leaders from realizing their vision. MCESA's staff works with leaders to design the right amount of support for continuous improvement to take place and to take hold.

Learn more about:

The Teacher Leader Academy

THE Instructional COACHING SERIES         



Exemplary principal initiative

ASPIRING principal initiative

School Leadership contact

MCESA’s Teacher Leader Academy will extend the reach of master teachers to transform schools by building the capacity of others, promoting collaboration, and sparking shared leadership. Participants will be equipped to model effective practices, share craft knowledge, and facilitate solution-driven teacher teams within the context of a classroom teacher.

Interested in the Teacher Leader Academy? Fill out the interest form below to receive the full application.

Deadline now extended to 11:59 p.m., Sunday, August 27.

When submitting your application, you must also upload a completed Principal Acknowledgement Form, available here.

Create your own user feedback survey

The Setting a Foundation for Coaching Series is designed to bring coaches together for four days of learning, reflection, and personal goal setting, with ample opportunities between workshop dates for practicing skills and implementing goals. With each workshop, coaches will reflect on and share experiences, while also receiving feedback from colleagues.

The Coaching Series topics include: Building Coaching Relationships, Coaching Communication Skills, and Designing Coaching Support.


The Coaching Series of consists of courses for professional learning aligned to Coaching Observation Instrument elements and effective implementation of Arizona Content Standards. Each course can be delivered face-to-face either directly to coaches or through a trainer-of-trainer model. MCESA coaching services are also available to support principals in facilitating successful professional learning for their coaches. 

Instructional Coaching Series Overview

Setting a Foundation for Coaching: Building Coaching Relationships (7 hours):

By the end of the workshop, participants will understand ways trusting relationships and listening skills impact coaching and professional relationships.

Setting a Foundation for Coaching: Coaching communication Skills (14 hours-2 days):

Part 1: By the end of the workshop, participants will understand that communication skills are essential for effective coaching. Participants will know the elements of productive listening and effective paraphrasing and will be able to engage in a coaching conversation using a variety of paraphrase types. Participants will leave with an action plan to increase personal effectiveness in coaching communication skills with teachers.

Part 2: By the end of the workshop, participants will understand that communication skills are essential for effective coaching. Participants will know the elements of effective questioning and will be able to use questioning to support teachers in higher levels of reflection and thinking. Participants will leave with an action plan to increase personal effectiveness in coaching communication skills with teachers.

Goal Driven Collaboration: Designing Coaching Support (7 hours):

By the end of the module, participants will be able to use a protocol and apply strategies for designing support in order to improve teacher effectiveness and student achievement.

Additional Instructional Coaching Workshops

Setting a Foundation for Coaching: The Principal-Coach Partnership (7 hours):

By the end of the module, participants will understand the benefits of a principal-coach partnership agreement has on the work of a coach and school culture. 

Goal Driven Collaboration: Coaching Cycles (6 hours):

By the end of the module, participants will know and understand the essential considerations of each stage of a coaching cycle.

Learn more about joining an upcoming Coaching Series cohort, or design a custom series for your school or district. Contact

Provide leaders with a supportive, customizable, and individual path for their own learning. Establish a network of cross-district leaders that support each other's growth and development.

The Leading Series consists of courses for professional learning aligned to the Leading Observation Instrument elements and effective implementation of the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders. Each course can be delivered through face-to-face training either directly to leaders or through a trainer-of-trainer model. Implementation guides and MCESA coaching services are also available to support in facilitating successful professional learning for leaders. 

MCESA can also customize courses and follow-up support for schools and districts.

Distributive Leadership (6 hours): Participants will explore strategies effective in increasing distributed leadership and building capacity to support a change initiative. (LdOI Elements: Professional Development: Adjusting Support; Recruitment, Retention & Succession Planning)

Understanding Resistance (6 hours): Participants will create a plan to implement strategies for managing resistance to change and adjusting support. (LdOI Elements: Change Process, Mutual Trust and Respect, Conflict Facilitation)

Sustainability (6 hours): Participants will use systems thinking, resiliency, and healthy leading to ensure sustainability of their change initiative. (LdOI Elements: Change Process, Communication, Management Systems)

Supervision of Written, Taught, and Tested Curriculum (3 hours): Participants will explain how the SWTTC element helps to support a CIP. Participants will use criteria to either create, or refine existing method for gathering and organizing walk-through data. Participants will develop a system for monitoring and documenting the work and progress toward school goals. (LdOI Elements: Supervision of Written, Taught, and Tested Curriculum; Accountability for Goals; Implementation of Strategies; Educator Goal Plans)

PLCs for Leaders: Growing Effective PLCs (6 hours): Participants will analyze present levels of PLC effectiveness and create a differentiated plan to increase proficiency. (LdOI Elements: Professional Development: Adjusting Support, Collaborative Learning Structures)

Getting Ready: Framing/Data (6 hours): Participants will define data question(s) aligned  to a targeted topic (i.e. reading, STEM, student achievement, PBIS, intervention, school culture, attendance). (LdOI Elements: CIP: Goal Setting, CIP: Action Plans, Accountability for Goals)

Data Analysis (6 hours): Participants will analyze current data to develop a theory of action including potential benchmarks for monitoring effectiveness. (LdOI Elements: CIP: Goal Setting, CIP: Action Plans, Accountability for Goals)

Vision (6 hours): Participants will strengthen their vision through the creation of a public narrative to engage members of the school community and garner support for a change initiative. (LdOI Elements: Shared Purpose, Communication, CIP: Goal Setting, CIP: Action Plans)

Strategic Conversations (3 hours): Participants will identify stakeholders key to the success of the change initiative and plan strategic conversations for both supporting and opposing influences. (LdOI Elements: Change Process, Mutual Trust and Respect, Conflict Facilitation, Communication)

Systems Thinking (6 hours): Participants will understand the basics of systems thinking and be able to use systems thinking to create change within the school. (LdOI Elements: Change Process, School Resource Management, Management Systems)

High Functioning Teams (3 hours): Participant will build skills of the school leadership team and increase their leadership team's ability to influence the effectiveness of other leaders and teams on their campus. (LdOI Elements: Collaborative Learning Structures, Accountability for Goals, Group Facilitation)

Action Planning (6 hours): Participants will develop an action plan for implementation of their change initiative specific professional development, including thinking through benchmarks and monitoring structures. (LdOI Elements: Supervision of Written, Taught, and Tested Curriculum; Accountability for Goals, Implementation of Strategies, Educator Goal Plans)

Is your school district struggling to develop effective, consistent support and oversight of school leaders? Would you like to see the culture of your district driven by performance instead of compliance?

The Principal Supervisor Institute is a nationally recognized program for district leaders who supervise and support principals. The Institute brings together district leaders to engage with our expert practitioners in intensive, standards-based and experiential training. The program helps principal supervisors develop the skills to build principals' instructional leadership capacity and plan for and execute against their districts’ strategic goals.

Principal Supervisor Institute Overview

Download the Principal Supervisor Flyer

Download the Principal Supervisor Flyer

  • Developing your vision to drive strategic change.
  • Utilizing a systems thinking approach to integrate the Principal Supervisor role within your already demanding leadership role.
  • Negotiating the political context of your position to make systematic change.
  • Identifying and dismantiling inequitable practices and systems
  • Reflecting on your processes to collect and organize data to be used as evidence to coach and evaluate principals.
  • Implementing a clear, differentiated plan of support for principals.

The Institute is designed for both new and more experienced principal supervisors, and is a combination of in-person and on-line collaborative modules that focus on:

Principal Supervisor Institute Dates

Registration of this event requires participation in the full institute. Dates of the institute are as follows:

  • April 7, 2017
  • May 5, 2017
  • June 8, 2017
  • August 25, 2017
  • September 29, 2017
  • December 1, 2017
  • February 2, 2018

Learn more about joining an upcoming Principal Supervisor Institute cohort, or design a custom series for your school or district. Contact

What Rodel Exemplary Principals Do

In June of 2016, MCESA became the new home of the Rodel Exemplary Principal program. Rodel selected MCESA to lead this program based on a shared belief of the importance of recognizing and developing our state's top school leaders.

Exemplary Principals mentor Aspiring Principals over a one-year period and participate in 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.

2017 Rodel Exemplary Principals

Wayne Deffenbaugh

Wayne Deffenbaugh

Amalia Garcia

Amalia Garcia

Kristi Langley-Wells

Kristi Langley-Wells

Hilary O'Brien

Hilary O'Brien

Denis Parcells

Denis Parcells

Jan Stevens

Jan Stevens

Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas

Tonja Yalung

Tonja Yalung

2016 Rodel Exemplary Principals

Shannon Bonnette

Shannon Bonnette

Karie Burns

Karie Burns

Frank Garcia

Frank Garcia

Bennett MacKinney, Ed.D.

Bennett MacKinney, Ed.D.

Kate McDonald

Kate McDonald

Chad Miller

Chad Miller

Lori A. Sheffield

Lori A. Sheffield

Stacie Zanzucchi

Stacie Zanzucchi

Exemplary Principal Perks

An Exemplary Principal receives recognition for making measurable differences in the lives of students, staff and the local community. Exemplary Principals will be recognized through our partnerships with local media as well as through our 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 Exemplary Principals are Selected

  • Researchers 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 our selection committee and semifinalists are selected. School observations and interviews are arranged with these semifinalists to look for evidence of effective leadership practices.
  • Our 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 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 Exemplary Principals and asked to mentor future school leaders.
  • Each cohort of Exemplary Principals is announced in January. They are recognized through our site and our media partners for their dedication to improving Arizona’s public education system.


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.

How Aspiring Principals are Selected

  • Aspiring school leaders (teachers on special assignment, coaches, assistant principals, or other school administrators) are encouraged to apply to become Aspiring Principals.

  • Interested candidates submit an online application packet as well as a letter of recommendation from their supervising principal, and a signed superintendent or charter holder approval form. Applications are due April 17th.

  • MCESA's selection committee screens all application packets in April and will notify candidates eligible for the next phase of the selection process. Interviews and group performance tasks will be conducted with qualified candidates the first week of May. Selected Aspiring Principals will be notified by May 8th.

  • Aspiring Principals will participate in a professional learning experience designed to equip them for the principalship. They will participate in a two-week summer intensive, June 12th-23rd as well as seminars scheduled throughout the next year. Aspiring Principals are grouped with two principal mentors (their home school principal and a Rodel Exemplary Principal) who will guide them in developing skills and competencies during the residency program.

  • Aspiring Principals will be recognized in a press release, and all candidates will be notified by May 15th.

Professional Learning

LOGS: Each Aspiring Principal will be asked to maintain a log of the work they do outside of the Professional Learning Seminars. The logs are turned in for review twice a year. Aspiring Principals will receive feedback on their log. 

CAPSTONE PROJECT: Each Aspiring Principal will be asked to lead a change initiative which will benefit the students at their site. Their project must be approved by their site principal (if necessary), school district administration, and MCESA. The project should address a specific need at the school and last for a minimum of one semester. The capstone project should be developed with the belief the change will be sustained at the school. This means each Aspiring Principal will be responsible for developing the project, identifying and gathering necessary resources, developing an assessment for the project, and ensuring the project can be supported in the long term.

Aspiring Principals are encouraged to work with their mentor principal in developing their capstone project. They are encouraged to reach out to MCESA for assistance in identifying additional Exemplary Principals with specific skills and/or experience in the area of capstone. 

The Principal Initiative provides the opportunity to learn the systems necessary for school-wide success from highly effective practicing administrators. This occurs in professional learning seminars as well as in Exemplary Principals’ schools.

Aspiring Principals are required to attend all training seminars. 

Perceptions of Aspiring Principals

The Perceptions of Aspiring Principals Participating in the  Exemplary Principal Initiative

By Edy LaShelle Schlosser

A Dissertation submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, Northern Arizona University

Tell me what has the Exemplary Principal Initiative experience meant to you? What has it contributed to your development as educators over the past 2 years?

  • “Has provided an opportunity to network with quality educators”
  • “Has allowed me to grow within the education profession”
  • “People get out of [it] what they put into it. They have the best of the best of educational leaders”
  • “Has been the greatest professional development experience of my career”

How did you all develop trust within the mentor/mentee relationship? Did it come blindly or did it take a while? When this question was asked, participants shared the following perceptions regarding the development of trust between mentor and mentees:

  • “The trust happened quickly and came blindly”
  • “Knowing that my mentor was an Exemplary Principal helped me trust sooner”
  • “Once the trust was built and relationship was established, I knew that I could use my mentor as a resource and depend on them”
  • “The seminar sessions in year one, helped me to build the bridge and trust with my mentor”

What are the benefits of mentoring from your perspectives? When this question was asked, participants shared the following perceptions regarding the benefits of mentoring:

  • “Networking with concrete, specific example. I have called my mentor and asked ‘What do you do?”
  • “Reassurance, guidance, and advice. Knowing that my mentor supports me and me knowing that I am not crazy”
  • “The support, growth, and self-development as an Aspiring Principal and new administrator”
  • “Knowing that you can trust someone and know that you have someone to guide you. . .”
  • “Helpful to have an outside perspective because when are you in a school district you sometimes get tunnel vision. It’s nice to hear from someone outside of your district, who is not in the same daily grind as you are. . .”

Do you believe that you are prepared to lead your own school or take on the role as an assistant principal now that you are almost done with the program? Why or why not? When this question was asked, participants shared the following perceptions regarding their preparation as educational leaders:

  • “Definitely! I am implementing what I learn in the seminar sessions and taking it back to my school”
  • “Seminars give us tools that we can use. Specifically, the Collaborative School and Community [seminar]. Also the day we did the headband game, I took that back to my staff and did it in a staff meeting and told them that they could utilize it in their own class”
  • “ . . .I have used the skills that I gained to help build my master and classroom teachers. I take back what I learn and pass it on”
  • “I believe that this program has been significant in my preparation as an assistant principal. What I learned at ASU in my Master’s classes doesn’t compare to the hands-on and practical knowledge I have gained by being an Aspiring Principal.”

How did your mentor help you learn about educational leadership? When this question was asked, participants shared the following perceptions regarding how their mentor helped them learn about educational leadership: 

  • “99% of what we do is communication and using our communication skills. My mentor focused on always starting with a positive and listening. She helped me to refine my communication skills on all levels- verbally and through emails”
  • “My mentor gave us scenarios of real situations that occurred at their school and have us work through them”
  • “I was able to observe my mentor in their school setting and apply what I saw at my own school, especially the modeled behavior of building relationships”
  • “I was given lots of feedback and advice on problems that I presented to my mentor. She would walk me through how she would handle it and then give me the opportunity to say how I think I should handle it based off of her feedback. It was a very reflective process for problem solving.”

The Aspiring Principals found the program to be beneficial from many different aspects, but mostly in the area of support and networking. Many of the focus group participants shared that the mentoring component of the program was most beneficial to their development as educational leaders.

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Contact Administrator for Instructional Leadership Development Natasha Camp  | 602-372-0436