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Launching School Leader Network

IPA’s Launching School Leader Network is a year-long program providing learning opportunities and support for first to third year administrators. Principals, assistant principals and deans will all benefit from the program. The network is led by four education experts, with additional instruction from practicing principals, and assistance from IPA field services coordinators, or what we’re calling the Network Leaders. The Network Leader team is responsible for all presentations and activities at the sessions, as well as intersession learning opportunities. Beyond content and practical applications from the Network Leaders, individuals in the program support each other in their growth as school leaders. Sign up for the Launching School Leader Network here. For an additional fee, 40 hours of mentoring is available to individual administrators.

PLEASE NOTE: The Launching School Leader Network is replacing what in the past has been a two-day training session for new school leaders. This change is based on feedback from new administrators over the past several years.

Network Leader Team

IPA's Network Leaders have experience at every level of school leadership. In addition to presenting both the day one sessions and the day two administrator academies, the Network Leader Team will be available to support network members throughout the school year.


Melanie Brink

Dr. Melanie Brink
Curriculum Director
Carbondale Community High School
PJ Caposey

Dr. PJ Caposey
Meridian CUSD 223
Herschel Hannah

Dr. Herschel Hannah
Assistant Supt. of Human Resources
Bloomington School District 87
Don Anderson

Mr. Don Anderson
Director of Mentoring
Illinois Principals Association


Network I Practicing Principals

Rich Thole, Principal of Princeville High School
Jodi Neaveill, Principal of Cerro Gordo Elementary School 

Network II Practicing Principals

Eric Flohr, Principal of Hononegeh High School
Michelle Willis, Principal of Gillespie Elementary School 


Program Design

There are two concurrent networks of launching school leaders growing across three stages:

Network I, Springfield, IL

  • Stage 1: Monday/Tuesday, July 31 & August 1, 2017 (Crowne Plaza)
  • Stage 2: Monday/Tuesday, November 13 & 14, 2017 (Wyndham)
  • Stage 3: Monday/Tuesday, February 5 & 6, 2018 (Wyndham)

Network II, NIU Campus, Hoffman Estates

  • Stage 1: Thursday/Friday, August 3 & 4, 2017 (Map)
  • Stage 2: Thursday/Friday, November 16 & 17, 2017 (Map)
  • Stage 3: Thursday/Friday, February 8 & 9, 2018 (Map)

Day one of each stage consists of instruction and interactive learning by the Network Leader Team. Each day one session also includes a presentation by, and interaction with, practicing principals from elementary and high school levels to address current issues and responsibilities.

Day two of each stage will consist of a full day academy also presented by the Network Leader Team.

Stages of Learning and Application

Stage 1

  • Leading from the perspective of the School Leader Paradigm (in each session)
  • Establishing key relationships
  • Shaping climate and culture
  • Building a vision
  • Avoiding pitfalls and leveraging skills
  • Planning your next eight weeks
  • Administrative Academy: Difficult Conversations - How to Discuss Crucial Issues to Increase Performance

Stage 2

  • Developing a strategic plan
  • Managing change
  • Ensuring equity in our schools
  • Implementing equitable discipline
  • Conducting observations and evaluations
  • Planning your next eight weeks
  • Administrative Academy: Successful Leadership - Productive, Balanced, and Sustained

Stage 3

  • Building capacity and leadership structures
  • Creating systems for success
  • Planning and conducting teacher recruitment and hiring
  • Building a strong future
  • Laying the groundwork for next year
  • Planning your next eight weeks
  • Administrative Academy: Data - Guiding Teaching, Learning, and School Improvement


Members: $900

Non-members: $1,195*

*You can join IPA for just $280 if you are doing the full experience! Not only do you save money on the Launching School Leader Network experience, but you also get all the benefits of IPA membership!

Register Now!


New principals, assistant and associate principals, and administrators face new tasks, responsibilities, and decisions on a regular basis and need an “expert” to not only coach but to mentor and provide instructional mentoring. As part of the comprehensive leadership development offered by the Illinois Principals Association, highly trained and experienced mentors are available to IPA professional development program participants and districts. Find out more here.

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