MMS principal completes Master Principal program

Tuesday, October 31, 2017
LeAnn Helms, Manila Middle School principal, recently completed the Arkansas Masters Principal program. Some of her sixth grade students joined her for a picture. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

The Arkansas Leadership Academy announced LeAnn Helms, principal of Manila Middle School, has completed Phase III of the Master Principal Institute.

Helms has been serving as MMS principal for seven of her 15 years in education. She started her teaching career as a family consumer science teacher and then taught history.

Helms graduated from Manila High School in 1999, received an Associate Degree from Arkansas Northeastern College, Bachelor's Degree from Arkansas State University, Masters Degree from Union University, and EDS from Arkansas State University.

“Going in as middle school principal was a big change in my career,” she said. “It really takes a village to raise a middle school child. It has been a wonderful experience.”

To qualify for the program, a principal has to have three years of experience. Helms decided the timing was right for her to apply for the Master Principal program and she was accepted the first year she applied and continued to complete all three phases.

Established in 1991, the Arkansas Leadership Academy is a nationally recognized statewide partnership of 13 universities; nine professional associations; 15 educational cooperatives; the Arkansas Departments of Education, Higher Education, Department of Workforce Education; Arkansas Educational Television Network, Tyson Foods, Inc; Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and the Walton Family Foundation for a total of 51 partners.

Helms said the experience in Phase III of the Master Principal Institute, “has helped me to develop into my very best. The MPI Program has taught me to listen more and value every minute of my time that I have with my teachers, students and parents. The program helped me to highlight the community sectors that can help to build lifetime learners in our community.”

The Master Principal Program was established by the Arkansas 84th General Assembly in the Second Extraordinary Session of 2003 and signed into law as Act 44.

The Master Principal Program is a three phased program. Selection for Phase I participants is based on responses to questions on the application and on achieving a state-wide balance using demographic information. After successful completion of Phase I, the principal may choose to submit an application for Phase II. Admission to the second phase of the program requires submission of a portfolio documenting the application of the lessons learned from the first phase and the results of that work to improve student and adult learning in that school. To be admitted to the third phase, principals must complete a rigorous portfolio application process that includes evidence of their impact on education at the district, state, and local levels. These portfolios are evaluated by stakeholders in education from Arkansas as well as from across the nation. Portfolio scorers receive training through the Arkansas Leadership Academy.

Helms completed all three phases of the three year program in May.

Principals will be evaluated on student performance, principal performance, and school performance through a portfolio application and possible school site visit.

Helms has applied for the Master Principal Designation which included a 180 page application.

“I should hear in November if I will get a school visit,” she said. “If not, I will rework the application and reapply next year.”

Helms said it has been a lot of work but the training has been incredible.

“I have brought back what I have learned and we grow on it every day,” Helms said.

LeAnn is married to Danny Helms, a teacher in the Manila District, and they have a daughter, Chole, a fourth grade student at Manila Elementary.

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