Mentoring future principals
Dr. Mary Kay Scharf and Dr. Lynette Mehall are the internship supervisors for the EAF Principal Prep program. Both local, retired administrators, they love mentoring and seeing their interns grow in their leadership.
Mary Kay Scharf
Scharf spent seven years in the classroom with five at Metcalf working with children with physical disabilities and another 29 years as a principal/administrator mostly in District 87 before transitioning to mentoring aspiring administrators. She joined the EAF faculty in 2014 and helped shape the program to its current state.
She notes that there are several benefits for students to participate in the ISU principal prep program that provides them with a well-rounded preparation. The experience is quite comprehensive including such areas as public relations, cultural competency, personnel management, business management, curriculum, transition, and technology, among many more.
However, the area of greatest focus and development is that of school improvement. In most internships, the intern plays a significant leadership role in the analysis of data, identification of problems, targeting of goals, implementation of improvement activities and strategies, in addition to supporting the evaluation of the process. This experience prepares the intern for the most important role of the principal.
Scharf also coaches local principals as part of a federal grant. She enjoys both positions because contributing to the profession in this way has been a natural transition away from the actual principalship.
“Observing the growth of students from the beginning of the program to the end of the internship is quite rewarding,” said Scharf. “They are already motivated, but the gain in knowledge and the transition from teachers to administrators is sometimes dramatic. I am especially thrilled when they call to share the news of their first admin job!”
Scharf states that her greatest joy is being Meemaw to 7-year-old Mia, who is a student at Metcalf. She also recently started a new hobby of acrylic paint pouring.
Mehall spent almost 20 years teaching, mostly in District 87, and was an administrator in Unit 5 for 16 years. She has been an instructional assistant professor in COE for 20 years. In addition to supervising principal internships, she also currently teaches EAF 434 Supervision for Learning Environments which focuses on teacher evaluation.
Mehall also notes that the interns complete 35 competencies/field projects related to every aspect of being an administrator. She notes that the list is pretty exhaustive, but the competencies provide the interns with true leadership experiences within their schools.
“I believe that they begin to think like administrators by being involved in a year-long internship and by completing the competencies and other administrative duties that the mentor principal assigns,” said Mehall. “It prepares them to move into assistant principal or principal positions when they graduate. When they are interviewed for administrative principals, we are hearing that they are well-prepared.”
Her favorite part about supervising the interns is the bi-monthly face-to-face meetings with the principal interns in their schools. She enjoys coaching and mentoring them through any issues that they are working on and likes learning about new initiatives and how they are handling the current challenges.
Mehall is proud of the principal prep program as she states, “I think ISU has a fantastic principal prep program. Our students have had success in obtaining jobs and have done well in these positions. I give credit to Mary Kay and all those in the EAF department who planned the new program that started in 2014.”
Her fun fact is that her family used to attend Family Camp in Minnesota for a week and did all the things that kids would do at camp like archery, high ropes, sailing, horseback riding, etc., but as a family. They did this for six years and loved it.