By Karen Butterfield

Missourian Staff Writer

The Union School District’s administrative intern program has “paid off in dividends,” said Superintendent Dr. Steve Weinhold.

The program kicked off in 2014 to help manage the building in which they were placed. Interns were there to deal with discipline, scheduling and day-to-day operations to help make sure the principal had the time and flexibility to be an instructional leader.

Since the program’s inception, several of the interns have grown into permanent administrative roles in the district.

Kendra Fennessey, who was an intern at Beaufort Elementary, is now the principal at the school. Aaron Burd, intern at the middle school, is the principal at Clark-Vitt Elementary. Rhea Summers, an intern at Clark-Vitt Elementary, is now an assistant principal at the school.

Rob Rogers and Claire Heaton, both interns at Central Elementary, are now assistant principals at Central. Sally Denbow, intern at Beaufort Elementary, is now the assistant principal at Beaufort.

“Overall, we are very pleased with this program as it has allowed our district to better meet the needs of our students, and has also been instrumental in developing ‘home-grown’ leaders within our district who already knew our system and were able to seamlessly transition into a role and immediately begin making an impact,” said Dr. Justin Tarte, executive director of HR and learning.

The program also has allowed teachers to move from the classroom and see if they liked being in an administrative role.

“It’s been a very successful program,” Weinhold said. “It was a good growing process for young administrators (and provided) a time to build experience with the help, supervision and instructional leadership within the building.”

Burd praised the program and the guidance of Dr. Ty Crain, middle school principal, who he worked with during his internship.

“The experiences that I got to be a part of on a daily basis were far better than anything that I had ever learned or experienced by completing coursework for an administrative degree,” he said.

“As an intern, I got to experience a little bit of every aspect of building leadership and this experience helped ease my transition as a current principal. Without the administrative intern opportunity, I don’t know where I would be, but I also know that I wouldn’t be nearly as prepared for life as an administrator without this experience.”

Rogers echoed the sentiment.

“I really appreciate the district’s willingness to have such a program,” he said. “It not only allowed me the chance to transition from the classroom to an administrative role but it also gave the district the flexibility to find a role that best utilizes my skills.”

Tarte said the administrative intern program is widely used in school districts across the country and is an excellent way to grow leaders internally while also ensuring the ever-changing needs of the district can be met.