Illinois Partnership to Advance Rigorous Training (IL-PART)

Supported by a grant from the Department of Education, the Illinois Partnership to Advance Rigorous Training (IL-PART) project represents a collaborative effort between high-need districts and universities that have come together in formal partnerships aimed at improving the way in which principals are prepared and developed in Illinois. This consortium of partners are collaborating in a two-fold effort aimed at:  

1) enhancing the role of the district/university partnerships to create rigorous and relevant principal training programs aligned to the complexities faced by today’s principals; 

2) working collectively to improve teaching and learning and support high academic standards for students in participating high-need districts.

The project assists high-need districts in establishing a pool of highly skilled school leaders that are able to respond to partner district needs and fill projected principal and assistance principal positions by: providing intensive, authentic, school-based learning opportunities for aspiring principals and by providing mentor principals and faculty supervisors with training so that they provide rich learning experiences for principal interns focused on school improvement efforts and increased student achievement.

With the ever expanding range of student needs within schools, diocesan offices of education are committed to producing highly effective school leaders who are prepared to meet the challenges that administrators face today. The Andrew M. Greeley Center for Catholic Education at Loyola University Chicago coordinates the participation in the IL-PART project of qualified Catholic schools. This includes acting as a liaison between university partners that place aspiring principals in Catholic schools that meet the State’s requirements for hosting principal interns.

Using the opportunity afforded by the IL-PART grant and leveraging the resources of the Andrew M. Greeley Center for Catholic Education, a powerful situation presents itself to focus leadership succession planning that will help to build a pipeline of high performing leaders for the dioceses of Peoria, Rockford, and Springfield.    Through this grant, the IL-PART parochial partners are focusing on building an explicit system to identify candidates with leadership potential, develop the capacity of the current building leadership to provide effective mentorship and create systemic supports to enculturate these approaches.

Through this grant, the Andrew M. Greeley Center for Catholic Education will be able to directly work with the Offices of Catholic Schools in partner dioceses in three main areas; talent development, intern candidate support, and building leadership support.  Customizing approaches to represent the realities that face Catholic schools, the Greeley Center for Catholic Education works with partner dioceses to assist in creating systems to address the expanding leadership needs of Catholic schools. 

Talent Identification:

  • Create a protocol to identify talented teachers across the diocese who may become schools leader within Catholic schools
  • Develop a “pipeline” of potential leaders to meet the growing leadership needs of Catholic schools
  • Recruit and develop potential school leaders candidates for Catholic schools

Principal Candidate Internship Support:

  • Explore and apply innovative internship supports such as the possibility of providing a buy-out to allow some interns to be released from teaching responsibilities to allow them to focus on completing the internship activities.
  • Design and deliver additional customized on-site, job-embedded supervision of the candidate for both the practicum and internship experiences to prepare candidates to effectively address the needs of modern day Catholic schools.  In addition to the 36 internships activities required for principal licensure, principal candidate interns will also work on developing the critical Catholic school principal competencies necessary to become an effective Catholic school principal.
  • Locate financial assistance, through the grant, for principal candidate interns to complete the "Growth through Learning" modules required by the state for the new principal licensure

Building Leadership Support:

  • Facilitate training in best practices in mentorship and coaching for existing building leaders to meet the required supervisory responsibilities of the mentor principal as defined in the principal preparation legislation for the state of Illinois.  This will also increase the competency of school leaders in supporting their teachers beyond the formal evaluation process.
  • Locate financial assistance, through the grant, for Catholic school principals to complete the "Growth through Learning" modules.   This training will support existing building principals in their understanding and application of evidence-based performance evaluations.  This will help to improve the quality of feedback provided to teachers.
  • Deliver additional capacity building professional development sessions for school leaders within the diocese.

For more information, please contact:

Patricia Huizar at
IL-PART Coordinator
Andrew M. Greeley Center for Catholic Education
School of Education
Loyola University Chicago