A “Grow Your Own” District-University Collaboration: The South Puget Sound Principal Preparation Partnership

A “Grow Your Own” District-University Collaboration: The South Puget Sound Principal Preparation Partnership
South Puget Sound Principal Preparation Partnership, Cohort of 2017-2019. Mark Knight, Partnership Faculty, Executive Director, Digital Educational Platforms, Puyallup Public Schools (Far right), Mike Walker, CityU Liaison, Associate Program Director (seated at far corner of table)

by Mike Walker

School district leaders with vision, capacity, and commitment are taking initiative to partner with universities to “grow their own” principals.  In Northwest Washington, City University of Seattle and Puyallup Public Schools have joined forces to offer outstanding leadership development via the South Puget Sound Principal Preparation Partnership.

Residency administrator preparation depends on cooperation between university and district.  Minimally, the university delivers course work, field supervision, and certification support, while the district provides internship placement and mentor.  In response to needs for larger numbers of more highly qualified school leader applicants (Basom & Yerkes, 2004; Hallinger & Bridges, 2017; Taylor & Gordon, 2015), some districts have sought to increase their roles in preparing principals and other school leadership positions like assistant principal, dean of students, and program administrator.  To “grow their own” leaders, some districts sponsor leadership academies for promising teacher leaders, host university courses and seminars at school sites, and encourage their administrators to mentor interns and to teach university administrator prep courses or to serve as guest lecturers in universities’ principal preparation programs.

CityU and Puyallup Public Schools proudly promote their joint venture, the South Puget Sound Principal Preparation Partnership.  In Spring 2018, the 2017-2019 cohort of principal candidates finished their preparatory course work and are poised to start the yearlong internship.  In this 100% face-to-face, cohort model, candidates attend classes in the district office on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.  Current district administrators renowned for their expertise and reputations in state and national education are hired as CityU faculty.  To close the link between academic preparation and internship application, faculty also serve as field supervisors during the internship in the second half of the two-year program. Among the impressive faculty are Superintendent Tim Yeomans and Chief Assessment and Accountability Officer Glenn Malone, who also coordinates the Puyallup side of the partnership.

The partnership’s philosophy expresses CityU’s and Puyallup’s strong beliefs in excellent, deep, wide preparation consistent with the district’s vision, mission, and beliefs about success for all students.  Dr. Yeomans and Dr. Malone expressed confidence that, while this preparation has deep roots in the “Puyallup Way”, leadership skills readily transfer to other districts’ leadership needs.  This local approach to professional development, partnered with a CityU Principal Certificate has significantly improved the quality of local candidates for school leadership positions.  The program has not only benefited Puyallup but all local districts have access to send and hire candidates.

Dr. Malone commented on the success of this approach, “Puyallup has been working with Principal Certification students since 2014.  Since that time we have helped prepare over 50 school leaders.  Our totals are very impressive and we are thrilled with our 96% placement rate!  Our students are currently serving as 2 chief officers, 3 deans, 5 directors, 10 principals, and 28 assistant principals.  They serve communities across Washington state in Mt. Baker, Leavenworth, Port Angeles, Kent, Highline, Clover Park, Tacoma, Franklin Pierce, Sumner, Orting, Chief Leschi, Bethel, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Bellevue, and Puyallup—18 of our current administrators—and 1 in Colorado!”

CityU Educational Leadership Director Dr. Margaret Chow is elated to support our partnership with Puyallup Public Schools to prepare excellent principals and school leaders.  In addition to this amazingly powerful, district-embedded, cohort-based, face-to-face model, CityU also makes principal and program administrator preparation accessible via a personalized variety of mixed-mode and online options.


Basom, M. R., & Yerkes, D. M. (2004). A School-University Partnership in Administrator Preparation: Learnings and Subsequent Questions. Basom & Diane M. Yerkes (Vol. 47). Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ794959.pdf

Hallinger, P., & Bridges, E. M. (2017). A Systematic Review of Research on the Use of Problem-Based Learning in the Preparation and Development of School Leaders. Educational Administration Quarterly, 53(2), 255–288. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013161X16659347

Taylor Backor, K., & Gordon, S. P. (2015). Preparing Principals as Instructional Leaders. NASSP Bulletin, 99(2), 105–126. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192636515587353

Published August 21, 2018



* Indicates a required field.

By clicking SUBMIT, I understand and agree to CityU's privacy policy.