LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Fairdale High School Assistant Principal Derieco Irvin wants to one day lead an elementary school in Jefferson County Public Schools, and he hopes the district’s new Principal Pipeline Program will help him achieve that goal.

Irvin is one of 21 in the program, which mostly consists of assistant principals throughout JCPS but also includes a resource teacher, a goal clarity coach and the district’s gifted and talented coordinator.

JCPS hopes the pipeline program will become a retention tool as principal jobs come open within the district.

“I think we've lost our way in this district of what I call creating a bullpen of great leaders who are ready to step into schools and take over and not need time to adjust and know where they're going, so it's been very important to me to make sure we develop the principal pipeline and make sure we have principals who are ready to step right in and be great leaders,” acting JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio said after Monday’s superintendent forum.

It’s the first such program since 2011, when the Wallace Foundation stopped offering funding, according to the district.

Those in the pipeline program started meeting Jan. 11 and will continue through the summer, learning from experienced principals in JCPS on a variety of topics like handling a budget, hiring staff, conducting meetings, engaging students and building a positive school environment. A second group of participants will start the program this fall.

Irvin said the initiative will not only help him in future administrative jobs, but also in his current role at Fairdale High School.

“I get to view and observe these dynamic principals work, and I get to take away some of the great things that they are doing and actually apply them to this job as well,” he told WDRB News in an interview Monday.

He was among those who heard from Highland Middle School Principal Thomas Aberli at Moore Traditional School on Wednesday.

Aberli, who is in the final year of a two-year agreement to come to Highland Middle before returning as principal of Atherton High School, shared his perspectives on handling day-to-day responsibilities, talking with students who have issues at home, transitioning to new schools as an administrator and other topics.

Offering advice for the group allowed him to reflect on his own career.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to be able to talk to aspiring administrators and share things that I succeeded with, things that I struggled or failed with and also give them some advice on how they may develop themselves as leaders,” Aberli said.

For Aberli, the largest benefit from the program for would-be principals is learning how to navigate central office and capitalize on resources offered by the district.

“This type of program is a great way for our aspiring administrators to understand how the system works better as well as just understanding procedurally how things work,” he said.

Irvin says he’s eager to put what he and others are learning through the pipeline program to use.

“It will sharpen my skills as a situational leader, so I’ll be more proficient at delegating and directing and supporting and coaching teachers,” he said. “In addition, I’ll have more knowledge with the master schedule, transportation, budgeting, and a plethora of things that will make me a more well-rounded principal.

“The bottom line is I’ll be ready day one.”

Reach reporter Kevin Wheatley at 502-585-0838 and kwheatley@wdrb.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinWheatleyKY.

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