Program | Principal Institute

Our Approach

Principal Institute extends New Leaders’ successful leadership training across a district or charter network, delivering school-centered professional development targeted to address local priorities and individual growth areas.

Real-World Practice

Principal Institute uses real-world data and student work samples to ensure that role plays and coaching during training sessions are directly relevant to current challenges in participants’ schools.

Expert Coaching

Successful former principals facilitate training and provide feedback to help participants build skills aligned with their personal development needs. Partners may also opt to add one-on-one, school-based coaching.

Skills For Success

Participants master practices needed to transform schools, such as creating effective leadership teams, delivering actionable feedback, and managing change required by new district initiatives.

Why Principal Institute?

Leading a school is complex and demanding, but half of principals report that they lack access to quality training. System leaders recognize the importance of leadership development, but capacity challenges often prevent a coherent approach to skill-building.

Principal Institute reshapes professional development for school leaders, with participants mastering practices needed to tackle real challenges in their schools. Together with our partners, we analyze local needs and design a targeted course of study to address them using New Leaders’ research-tested curriculum.

Too many school leaders lack access to quality training


Training is grounded in participants’ daily work at school, with job-embedded assignments focused on improving teaching and learning. Expert feedback during training sessions prepares participants to lead achievement gains right away, while also providing a strong foundation for continued growth.

of principals who received ongoing support from New Leaders say it increased their leadership skills


New Leaders empowers school leaders to deliver breakthrough results and make a lasting difference for students. Citing a seven-year study, the RAND Corporation recently named New Leaders as the principal preparation program with the strongest evidence of positive impact on student achievement.

of principals who received ongoing support from New Leaders say it increased their capacity to raise student achievement


Principal Institute is designed to accommodate the diverse needs of our partners, with a menu of supplemental offerings to address their unique priorities and budget considerations.

Partners seeking more intensive support for participants may opt to add leadership walks, one-on-one coaching, or a two-day summer kickoff session. We can also help our partners develop the capacity to do this work in-house, training principal supervisors to lead Principal Institute sessions in future years. That approach bolsters leaders’ performance in the immediate term, while cultivating the expertise to build on that foundation for years to come.

Leader Spotlight

Tiffany Etheridge | Baltimore, MD

When Tiffany Etheridge became principal at Belmont Elementary, she wanted to fix everything at once: more than half of students were reading below grade level, the halls were unsafe, and 28 percent of students were chronically absent. She immediately set new expectations, including regular data analysis and consistent behavior enforcement. And she immediately encountered challenges: teachers were resentful, and some parents were actively hostile.

At a New Leaders training session, Etheridge’s advisor asked key questions about steps she could take to build buy-in, helping her recognize the importance of input from the school community. Etheridge created a leadership team including respected staff, who spread enthusiasm for change. And she scheduled regular coffee chats with families, where she learned that parents felt unwelcome at the school.

New initiatives, including GED classes and a monthly food pantry, have engaged families, and positive change is underway. Chronic truancy has dropped dramatically, the percentage of students reading at grade level has jumped 14 percent, and enrollment is climbing.


“Leading adults requires being forward thinking, but also humble enough to listen to other people. I’ve gotten buy-in because I’m saying, ‘This is what we need to do. Let’s do it together.”

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New Leaders programs are available only within the United States