Dover principal becomes master

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published May 26, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated May 24, 2013 at 11:14 a.m.
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Donny Forehand, principal of Dover Elementary School, left, receives his Master School Principal Certification plaque from Arkansas Commissioner of Education Tom Kimbrell at the Arkansas Department of Education meeting in Little Rock on May 13. Forehand earned the certification through the Arkansas Leadership Academy.

Donny Forehand is no stranger to being in the role of leader. Forehand has been the head honcho at a school for 18 years. However, he only recently became certified as a Master School Principal through the Arkansas Leadership Academy.

Forehand is the principal at Dover Elementary School.

“I was very elated and excited that I had mastered the [Master School Principal Certification],” Forehand said.

To receive the certification, administrators must complete three years of rigorous professional development and a year of performance evaluations by the Arkansas Leadership Academy, according to the Arkansas Department of Education.

Principals must go through site visits, portfolio building and performance evaluations, in addition to professional development.

“You have to do a pretty intensive portfolio,” Forehand said. “It was an honor just to get selected for a [site] visit.”

Master School Principal Certification, although exhaustive, gave Forehand a way to show what his staff and students can actually do.

“I was excited to show off my building, my staff and my community,” Forehand said.

Forehand, before becoming a principal nearly two decades ago, taught in the Russellville School District, but his ultimate aim was to get back home, to Dover.

“I graduated from Dover High School, and it was my goal to come back to my community,” Forehand said.

Although the training process was rigorous, Forehand said he would recommend it to any principal who has such an opportunity.

“This process is the best model if you’re passionate about moving kids [forward],” Forehand said. “You learn how to take research components and break them down.”

During the three years of working on the program, the school has to show improvement in standardized test scores, Forehand said, and all the data has to be from the same building.

This complicated Forehand’s journey to becoming a Master School Principal because he had to change buildings multiple times before staying in the same place for three consecutive years.

Forehand’s school now houses kindergarten through fourth grade.

After being in an administrative spot for so long, Forehand said his experience has shown that the most difficult part of being a principal is getting results.

“Everybody wants a top-performing school,” Forehand said. “I give 100 percent of the credit [for becoming a Master School Principal] to the teachers and the staff.”

Forehand’s favorite part about being a principal is making an impact on the lives of his staff and the students in his school.

“When you’re at [the teacher] level, you get to touch your kids’ lives,” Forehand said. “But at the principal level, you get to make a huge impact on teachers.”

Forehand enjoys leading the teachers in his school and

helping students improve academically.

“Instead of moving your class [forward], as a principal, you get to move buildings of kids forward,” Forehand said. “It’s very rewarding to see kids who are struggling with things show improvement.”

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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