Burnham heads principal training program

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – After retiring as the head of Mississippi’s public school system, Tom Burnham is now determined to prepare a new generation of school leaders.
Burnham, who retired on June 30 from his second stint as state superintendent, has become interim director of the University of Mississippi’s Principal Corps program.
Burnham officially started the job at the beginning of this month, as the program continues its search for its next director.
Susan McClelland left the director position after being appointed as interim chair of teacher education at the University of Mississippi.
“Being retired and being away from education doesn’t fit with who I am and what I am about,” Burnham said. “I care too much for the institution of education to do that.”
Principal Corps is designed to train teachers to be principals and assistant principals in the state’s schools. Corps members participate in classes on the Oxford campus during two summer semesters. They return one weekend each month during the school year.
Participants also complete two full-time internships with established principals and earn either a Master of Education or Specialist in Education degree in educational leadership.
The focus, Burnham said, is on instructional leadership. What sets the program apart is the experience gained from working with an established principal and the rigor of the courses, Burnham said.
Burnham helped launch the program in 2008, while working as the dean of the University of Mississippi School of Education. His goal now is to help it expand geographically. He has been meeting with superintendents around the state about potential candidates to the program, which has only had one recruit from south of Jackson over the years.
“The whole idea is that we would provide not only the professional training and the education, but also the experiences to equip a new generation of school leaders,” Burnham said.
The Principal Corps is accepting applications for its fifth cohort online at Education.OleMiss.edu. Deadline for admission is Feb. 1.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com