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March 21, 2002


LA CROSSE,Wis—Educators interested in becoming principals will be now be able to receive Wisconsin licensure as part of a graduate program offered by Viterbo University.
 The closest Wisconsin college to offer a similar program is UW-Madison (in Minnesota, Winona State) and officials in the Viterbo Graduate School of Education expect interest to be high. The program is approved by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI).

"We have been asked by many people to create such a program," said Dr. John Schroeder, director of Graduate Studies. "The program will be offered to a cohort group beginning this fall. All educators accepted into the program will essentially go through the principal licensure program at the same time."

Schroeder estimates the first cohort will graduate approximately 35 educators trained to be principals in summer 2004.

Teachers who already possess a graduate degree, will still be eligible for principal licensure as part of a special 24-credit certification program. Otherwise, Viterbo will offer those with undergraduate degrees a complete 36-credit Master of Arts in Education degree which includes a principalship licensure. Teachers are required to have three years of teaching experience at the time of  application.

The new program is being welcomed by area educators who recruit administrators. In the La Crosse School District, the 16 schools employ approximately 25 individuals whose positions require a principal’s license. That number includes associate principals and activity directors who need the licensure. "This program has really been sorely needed," said Doug Happel, assistant superintendent and director of human resources for the School District of La Crosse. "It’s a real struggle to secure a quality pool of administrative candidates.

"Even here in La Crosse, where the pay is relatively good and we enjoy an excellent reputation, we don’t have the number of qualified applicants we had 15 years ago," Happel added. "The pool of candidates just isn’t deep. There is no question that we welcome this initiative as it brings the program much closer to home. It’s really a matter of how far a person wants to move in order to get this license."

Schroeder indicated that principals and superintendents from the area will be recruited to teach in the program. "We want the teachers who want to be principals to be exposed to the practical as well as theoretical issues of administration. Those working in the field will bring a real credibility to the coursework."

While bringing a principal licensing program to La Crosse will not necessarily eliminate the pressing demand for qualified educational administrators, Schroeder feels many more teachers will consider this new option.

"There is not a more important administrative position in our school system today than that of the principal," said Schroeder. "He or she makes a significant  contribution to the quality of our educational systems and I hope some of our finer teachers who aspire for leadership, will consider becoming a principal."

 For additional information about the program, contact Schroeder at 796-3093.

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