Overview

Hendrix College is centrally located in Conway, Ark., on the western fringe of the Arkansas Delta and at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.  It is a private, undergraduate institution of the liberal arts that is dedicated to the cultivation of whole persons through the transmission of knowledge, the refinement of intellect, the development of character, and the encouragement of a concern for worthy values.  The fulfillment of the Hendrix College mission, however, extends beyond the immediate campus.  The College understands that the continued progress of Arkansas will depend upon a strong and improved educational system that begins in pre-school and extends to every level of education.  Hendrix intends, therefore, to do its part to improve education in Arkansas by establishing a charter school leadership institute that will serve as a national model for current and prospective charter school leaders.
   
One of the greatest needs related to increasing the charter school capacity in Arkansas involves the identification and training of charter school leaders (principals).  The out-migration, or population decline, in high-poverty and/or rural areas, diminishes the pool of high quality, well trained school leaders, especially those with the additional entrepreneurial skills needed to serve as a successful charter school administrator.  In addition to increasing the charter school capacity in Arkansas, however, it is very important to have strategies and resources available to provide high quality, ongoing professional development for current charter school leaders. 

The Hendrix College Charter School Leadership Institute will be used to cultivate the type of leadership needed to promote educational excellence and expand the charter school movement in Arkansas.  In November 2005, Hendrix College announced a proposal to establish a new pre-kindergarten through 8th grade charter school and professional development center.  This charter school will be different from any other in Arkansas, and unlike most charter schools in the country, because it will combine the latest efforts in four areas of education - (1) student learning, (2) professional development for teachers, (3) leadership training for school leaders, and (4) research for teachers, faculty, and students.  In January 2006, Hendrix received a grant from the Walton Family Foundation to fund the planning process for the charter school.  The planning process is currently underway, under the leadership of Dr. James Jennings, the project director for the Leadership Institute.  As a result, the Charter School Leadership Institute is directly related to the College's long-term charter school plans. 

A combination of short lectures, discussion, guest speakers, hands-on experiences, and projects will be used to meet the following objectives:

  • The principles of developing and implementing strategic plans
  • Using information sources, data collection, and data analysis strategies
  • Effective communication
  • Effective consensus-building
  • Principles of effective instruction
  • Diversity and its meaning for educational programs
  • The change process for systems, organizations, and individuals
  • Developing school culture, mission, and vision
  • Principles and issues relating to fiscal operations of school management
  • Legal issues impacting school operations
  • Current technologies that support management functions
  • Making management decisions to enhance learning and teaching
  • Supporting high-quality standards, expectations, and performances
  • Identifying community resources
  • Effective community relations and marketing strategies and processes
  • The importance of professional codes of ethics
  • Global issues and forces affecting teaching and learning

All of these objectives will be viewed in the context of their applicability to charter schools.

Each participant will be assessed for his/her mastery of the content matter provided for each session.  In certain cases, participants will be expected to complete a capstone experience.  The capstone experience will involve a Problem-Based Learning module related to starting a charter school in a low-performing area.  This will serve as an opportunity to integrate and use skills gained during the course of the Charter School Leadership Institute.