Kentucky Educators are First in Nation to Earn Prestigious School Leadership Credential

September 14, 2016

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Lexington, K.Y.- A group of eight current and former Kentucky school principals are the first educators in the nation to receive the Distinguished Principal and National School Leadership Coach credentials from the National Institute for School Leadership (NISL). This elite group of educators was awarded the advanced credential after a rigorous evaluation that included 150 pilot districts and 1,100 schools across three states.

Kentucky Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt congratulated the two Distinguished Principals and six National School Leadership Coaches at a recognition ceremony held today in Lexington, KY.  Commissioner Pruitt was joined in celebrating the recipients’ accomplishment by House Education Committee Chair Representative Derrick Graham, Senate Education Committee Member Senator Max Wise, state education leaders, and Tom Shelton, the Executive Director of Kentucky Association of School Superintendents (KASS).

The 2016 Distinguished Principals are Teri L. Reed of Jefferson County Public Schools and Alicia C. Hunter of Madison County Public Schools. The 2016 National School Leadership Coaches are Pamela K. Hart of Lincoln County Public Schools, Jason Radford, Kirk B. Lattimore, Lynne M. Wheat, Thomas T. Hanner and Victoria Ritchie.

Chosen for their demonstrated capacity for strategic leadership and success in driving student achievement, the eight educators will now play a central role in the development of the first-of-its-kind credentialing system for school leaders. NISL’s National Advanced Credentialing System for School Principals aims to transform the principalship in America—strengthening principals’ leadership skills at every stage of their career.

“Research shows that, other than teachers, principals have the largest impact on student learning in schools,” said NISL CEO Jason Dougal. “This initiative will not only identify great school leaders but also create them through a systematic process of professional development. Advanced credentialing will help build the next generation of great school leaders and help us reach our goal of having an excellent principal in every school.”

“Having a strong principal for each school is one of a superintendent’s top goals,” said KASS Executive Director, Tom Shelton, “because strong principals help create strong teachers and strong teachers create high student achievement.”

Both the Distinguished Principals and National School Leadership Coaches will be trained and certified by NISL to provide training and coaching to other principals, helping improve school leadership across the state. Those who have demonstrated that they can improve the practice of the school leaders who they coach, train or supervise will then be eligible for the Master Principal credential, a designation reserved for the most accomplished and influential school leaders in the profession.

NISL is building the advanced credentialing system based in part on international benchmarking research conducted by its parent organization, the National Center on Education and the Economy. NISL’s advanced credentialing system will give principals a transparent, codified and respected leadership development system that supports and rewards them as they progress through their careers—as it does in the world’s top-performing education systems. The initiative is being piloted in partnership with districts in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Mississippi under a three-year, $11 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant program.

To speak with one of the school leaders credentialed today or NISL CEO Jason Dougal, members of the media may contact Brendan Williams-Kief at bwilliamskief@ncee.org.  For more information on the NISL National Advanced Credentialing System for School Principals, visit www.NISL.org/SEED.


The National Institute for School Leadership provides research-proven leadership programs for educators using the best practices in adult learning from a variety of fields, including education, the military, business, law, and medicine. NISL builds the capacity of districts and states to provide education leaders with the critical knowledge and skills they need to be instructional leaders and improve student achievement in their schools.  NISL is a division of the National Center on Education and the Economy. Visit NISL at www.NISL.org.

The National Center on Education and the Economy was created in 1988 to analyze the implications of changes in the international economy for American education, formulate an agenda for American education based on that analysis and seek wherever possible to accomplish that agenda through policy change and development of the resources educators would need to carry it out.  Follow NCEE on Twitter @CtrEdEcon and on Facebook.