Charter School Leadership Institute

Meet the Director

 James Jennings 

Dr. James Jennings
Project Director

Dr. James Jennings, a tenured associate professor of education and history at Hendrix Collge, serves as the Project Director of the Hendrix College Charter School Leadership Institute.  He has served as chair of the Education Department at Hendrix since 2002 and possesses the following degrees:

  • B.S.E. degree from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL), with concentrations in History and Political Science
  • M.S. degree at the University of Arkansas, in Educational Administration
  • Ed.D degree in Educational Leadership from Vanderbilt University
  • ABD status for a Master's degree in history and has taught graduate level courses in educational leadership at the University of Memphis

Dr. Jennings successfully completed a four-week summer institute at Vanderbilt University (Peabody College), conducted by the Center for the Advanced Study of Leadership.  The institute, conducted in 1992, provided educational leadership training for school principals throughout the United States.  Dr. Jennings assisted the director, Dr. Philip Hallinger, in conducting the training.  In addition, Dr. Jennings served on a doctoral committee for an Educational Leadership doctoral candidate at Vanderbilt University.  He was asked to serve on this committee because of his expertise in Problem Based Learning (PBL).  His dissertation involved the use of Problem-Based Learning to provide educational leadership training for school principals in the Little Rock School District.

Problem-based learning has several advantages for training charter school leaders.  First, it provides opportunities for new learning and produces a huge "think tank/idea bank" experience for the participants.  Second, it fosters the transfer of knowledge through the use of authentic problems and settings.  Next, it improves the participant's awareness and understanding of related research.  Fourth, problem-based learning enhances the collection of resources needed to develop long-range plans.  Finally, problem-based learning addresses the need for adults to be self-directing.  (Jennings, 1992, pp. 193-195)

In regard to publications and presentations, Dr. Jennings has published an article about parent involvement for inner city schools, and he has an ERIC document about closing the achievement gap.  He has conducted numerous professional development workshops throughout Arkansas addressing topics such as multicultural education, curriculum design, the Dimensions of Learning model, and teaching social studies.  In particular, most of these professional development workshops have been conducted in cities and/or towns in the Arkansas Delta - Blytheville, Camden, Holly Grove, Hope, Lake Village, Lonoke, Marianna, Marvell, Monticello, and Morrilton.  Overall, Dr. Jennings has conducted professional development workshops for Arkansas educators in 50 or more school districts.  Several presentations have been made at national and regional educational conferences.  Two presentations have been made on closing the achievement gap, and the most recent presentation, given in January 2006, entitled "Successful Title I Schoolwide Projects and the Implications for Teacher Education" was made at the annual conference of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education.  Currently, he serves on the Achievement Gap Committee for the Conway Public Schools. 

Dr. Jennings has served as an educational consultant for the Lonoke School District and the Little Rock School District.  In addition, he served as a curriculum consultant for a group of elementary and secondary teachers which he accompanied to South Africa in 2000.  He has visited Kenya on two occasions to study its educational system.  He was employed by the Little Rock School District from 1977-1992, and he served there as the associate superintendent for desegregation from 1987-1992.  Among other things, his duties included interviewing prospective principals and evaluating existing school principals.

Finally, Dr. Jennings has a secondary teaching license in social studies (grades 7-12), and he is licensed as a secondary school principal (grades 5-12).  In addition, he has a middle school social studies teaching license (grades 5-8).  He is a Pathwise Observation System Trainer of Trainers, and he is a Certified Praxis III Assessor for the Arkansas Department of Education.  All novice teachers in Arkansas must be assessed by a Certified Praxis III Assessor before he/she receives full licensure.  He is in charge of a project to start a pre-kindergarten through eighth grade charter school that will be operated by the Education Department at Hendrix College.  He has visited outstanding charter schools in five states, and the District of Columbia, since August 2005.  He recently participated in the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) Leadership Institute, at Stanford University, and the Charter School Leadership Institute, at Peabody College (Vanderbilt University).