Buffalo Hills Elementary teacher selected for ASCEND Leadership Academy

Buffalo Hills Elementary teacher selected for ASCEND Leadership Academy
Buffalo Hills Elementary teacher selected for ASCEND Leadership Academy(press release)
Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 9:41 PM CDT
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - Michelle Dutcher, a 5th-grade teacher at Buffalo Hills Elementary, has been selected as the KPS candidate for the ASCEND Academy, a principal/administrator training program. The ASCEND Academy is run in partnership with the Tri-City Schools, which includes Grand Island, Hastings, and Kearney Public Schools.

The Academy is intended to support teachers who aspire to be future principals by providing them with experiences in different schools and settings. Each candidate spends the semester in an internship where they are able to build their capacity and experiences.

“Michelle Dutcher is a valued member of the KPS community and has proven to be both a successful classroom teacher, as well as a leader in her building,” said KPS Human Resources Director, Melissa Herrmann. “We are excited to have her represent KPS in the ASCEND program and have high hopes for her in the future. This will be a tremendous opportunity for her to grow and develop her leadership skills, as well as learn from our neighboring districts.”

According to Jason Mundorf, KPS Superintendent, this is the third year of the ASCEND program. The ASCEND program is a collaborative effort between Kearney Public Schools, Grand Island Public Schools, and Hastings Public Schools whereby each district selects an aspiring leader who has identified a skill set needed for becoming a school administrator. Each candidate gets the opportunity to serve as an administrative support for a school district principal for 9 weeks in one of the partner school districts as well as a 9-week administrative experience in their own district.

“This semester-long experience equips the prospective leader with hands-on, real-world experiences they will use as future administrators,” said Mundorf. “It is very difficult to replicate the day-to-day experiences you have as an administrator, and for these young leaders to have that chance in this internship is something that is unique across our state. The partnership with Grand Island and Hastings has been a terrific experience for all of our districts, and we are identifying and hiring these candidates for open instructional and building leadership positions in our districts. I really appreciate the partnership we have with these districts and their leadership teams, and I commend our collective school boards for their vision and commitment to school leadership development. We are building the future of school leadership in Central Nebraska, and it’s awesome to be a part of that effort!”