By Lisa Capobianco
When Steven LePage became the principal of Plainville High School, he did not believe in the idea of rising through the ranks to the position of superintendent, until now.
“I always thought that being a high school principal would be the end of the road for me, where I would want to stop my journey,” LePage said.
But learning from Plainville Superintendent Jeffrey Kitching and other superintendents in the past, inspired LePage to consider the possibility of a new journey in the school system.
“Seeing Kitching move positive change forward while still maintaining strong relationships with community members and with kids was an inspiration to me,” LePage said.
Principal LePage just began the UConn Executive Leadership Program, a 13-month program that requires participants to complete five three-credit courses that include an internship.
LePage is an intern for Dr. Erardi, the superintendent of Southington public schools. Between shadowing Dr. Erardi during administrative meetings and observing the superintendent’s interactions with the community, LePage said he admires his mentor’s ability to lead the school system.
“He is an extremely strong communicator [and] has an obvious commitment and passion for what he does,” LePage said. “He is someone who also distributes credit and celebrates the people who get the job done.”
Dr. Erardi said he feels privileged to be a mentor for Principal LePage.
“I wanted our district to be a professional learning community for adults too,” Dr. Erardi said. “It is a two-way street with Principal LePage—I’m learning from him.”
Superintendent Kitching said he remembers his own internship experience, which helped him develop a professional friendship with his mentor that continues to this day.
“The experience you get as an aspiring superintendent during your internship is critical,” Kitching said. “Being paired with an experienced superintendent from another school district allows interns to see the position…from a different perspective.”
LePage said he has seen the position from a global perspective through his internship experience. Out of all the lessons that Dr. Erardi has taught his intern so far, LePage hopes enhance his ability to “see the bigger picture” during administrative meetings after he completes the internship.
“Dr. Erardi has clear-cut objectives for his meetings and a strong coherence between the dsitrict’s goals, his goals and everything that happens in those meetings,” LePage said.
When LePage does not spend his time in Southington, he stays up until midnight reading books required for the program and writing internship blog entries. When not working on the program, LePage finishes work for the high school. On top of that, he finds time to tuck his children into bed and to work out at the gym.
“It’s a juggling act,” LePage said. “Every minute of my day is scheduled tightly.”
Despite LePage’s busy schedule, his passion for leading the school system never stops. Besides serving as a high school principal, LePage also serves as an advisor for three different clubs, including the ski club.
“I care about the kids,” he said. “I treat them like they are my own.”
Although LePage will receive his certification within a year, he wants to focus on his love for being the principal of the high school. LePage said he hopes to become a superintendent one day, but has not decided when to pursue the position.
“My goal for right now is to learn as a professional, to learn as a leader and to develop skills that I can apply in my current role as principal,” he said. “Then in the future if the opportunity presents itself, then I’ll have the certification and skills required to consider another possibility.”
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By Lisa Capobianco