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Help Them Swim, Not Sink How principal mentorship programs can benefit first-year leaders New school principals face high-stakes decisions as they navigate an unprecedented wave of challenges, including political and social rifts, the mental health crisis, and teacher resignations. Not surprisingly, this kind of stress takes a toll: almost 20% of principals leave the job each year, and nearly half of new principals leave their schools after three years. As school leaders, this kind of turnover impacts the whole community — its effects have been found to trickle down into student achievement as well as teacher turnover. Rather than let principals sink or swim, what are the options for helping them gain the confidence they need to tackle challenges? As Bridgewater State University professor Phyllis Gimbel and educator and writer Peter Gow show in their new book, one answer is mentorship programs. In Leadership Through Mentoring: The Key to Improving the Confidence and Skill of Principals, Gimbel (a Harvard Graduate School of Education alum) and Gow draw on mentorship initiatives with the Vermont Principals’ Association and the Massachusetts School Administrators Association to understand how to successfully deploy mentorship programs to support and retain principals. Takeaways include:

  1. Match the leadership styles, backgrounds, and interests of mentors and mentees. Because mentors will be offering advice drawn from their perspective and experiences, it’s important that there’s some shared ground. However, a successful relationship may