Announcing KCSS Principal Mentor Program

Kentucky Center for School Safety > News > School Safety News > Announcing KCSS Principal Mentor Program

From the desk of Jon Akers, Executive Director of Kentucky Center for School Safety


It has been my observation over the past several years that Kentucky is experiencing a high turnover in principals in our state. In fact, many move on to other positions within five years.  With the demands that greatly affect you and your district staff on a daily basis, KCSS would like to offer this service which is intended to supplement and support your efforts when you appoint a new principal.

To that end, it is my pleasure to introduce to you this free service from the KCSS to assist new principals as they begin this new phase in their administrative career It’s no secret there is a definite need for new principals to have a successful veteran principal mentor that they can turn to during this formative period to provide guidance and assistance on a regular basis.

In the spring of 2022, KCSS selected five new principals with whom we launched this pilot project to get a feel for how mentoring new principals should proceed and what tools would be needed.  I paired the new principals with KCSS school safety assessors who have both worked with our Center for more than ten years and all were successful and respected principals in their respective school districts.  This strategy worked well and now we are expanding this service to all Kentucky School Districts for this upcoming school year.

We have expanded our cadre of mentors to include 5 high school mentors, 5 middle school mentors and 5 elementary mentors representing many regions across our state. Each mentor will be assigned 5 mentees.

Our principal mentors received training from KCSS staff and the Office of the State School Security Marshal in the following areas: effective mentoring practices, current practices in school safety which included the “School Safety and Resiliency Act”, School Security Risk Assessment (the compliance tool that the State School Security Marshal’s compliance officers use), how to develop school-based threat assessment teams, reviewing effective school characteristics, and much more.  Our mentors have extensive experience serving as successful school administrators and will work solely for KCSS. The model that we have developed is NON-Evaluative.  Our intent is to provide assistance and guidance as the new principal develops his/her individual leadership skills.

To participate in this service, we would need to have a new principal who meets a few basic/necessary requirements such as:

  • Be a willing participant who welcomes a mentor/mentee relationship.
  • Be willing to meet both in person, or on-line, or via phone calls.  NONE of these activities would be scheduled during school time, unless requested by the principal mentee.
  • Be willing to share their cellphone number with the mentor to enhance communication in time of need.
  • Be willing to discuss school safety laws and current practices with their mentor.
  • Be willing to learn from a mentor since this is a collegial endeavor.
  • Be willing to improve his/her effectiveness as a leader.

We’re making it simple.  There will be no cost to the district and no long meetings. There will be one in-person “meet and greet” session, periodic phone calls, and/or virtual visits.  If a specific issue arises where the new principal wants to bounce something off their mentor, they will have immediate access to their mentor via cellphone. 

As you know, KCSS has many resources at our disposal that directly pertain to running a safe and effective school program at all levels.  All such resources will be readily available to the new principal along with KCSS staff to provide immediate (in-person) assistance.

In addition, we will nurture and facilitate a “New Kentucky Principal Network” (NKPN) and provide group sharing sessions for the participants to share information and issues they are dealing with.  New principal mentees will be offered periodic training, provided by KCSS, on current topics as they develop throughout the school year.  These will be offered in 45-minute zoom sessions after the school day. These sessions will be optional and will be interactive with KCSS staff and guest presenters.

I could go on why I think this program would be beneficial to you and your school district.  If after reading this you have a principal who could benefit from this program, please fill out the short request form and send it back to me ( as soon as you can, since spaces are limited.  We’ll move quickly coordinating one of our mentors with your principal.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel to contact me. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

Best regards,