New principal gets training at Harvard Chapin hopes to use fresh, global approach

June 24, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

ELDERSBURG -- The new principal at Carrolltowne Elementary School hopes to bring a global perspective to the job when she returns from a summer program at Harvard University.

Nancy Chapin's fellow students in the 10-day program next month will be coming from Australia, Singapore, Canada, South Africa and Taiwan, as well as from all over the United States.

"What attracted me to this is that people from all over the world will be there," said Chapin, 48, of Westminster. The diverse viewpoints set the program apart from other graduate programs, she said.

And, of course, she couldn't resist the chance to spend a day in an Outward Bound-style retreat on an island near the campus. The activity fosters trust, teamwork and leadership as the group meets a series of physical and logistical challenges during a hike.

"I've always wanted to do that, all my life," Chapin said. "It helps you learn to depend on other people and to pool resources."

Such teamwork is necessary for schools today because of limited budgets, she said.

Chapin got her first taste of the international perspective Harvard offers last fall, when she sat in on a few classes with her son, Stephen R. Chapin Jr. He is completing a master of business administration degree at Harvard in Cambridge, Mass.

She was impressed with the range of cultures the students represented.

"The perspective they offered was wonderful," Chapin said. She found herself fascinated with both the differences and the similarities: Sometimes a thought expressed by a student would open a whole new way of thinking for her, and at other times she would be struck by hearing them express things she also has felt.

That visit to Harvard solidified her desire to attend the "Art and Craft of the Principalship," a program she had read about years earlier in an education journal.

The 4-year-old summer institute is especially for new and aspiring principals, said Liz Regan, a spokeswoman for the program.

Among some skills new principals will need, the institute will help them learn how best to communicate with parents, staff and students, and how to introduce changes, Regan said.

"It's going to help them see, if the schools need restructuring, how to do it as the new person," Regan said. "It also focuses on their personal and professional growth -- what they need to do for themselves to maintain a wellness of body and spirit."

Chapin had been an assistant and acting principal at Carrolltowne for two years before her promotion this month. Before that, she taught elementary school and was one of a group of National Education Association members who went to China five years ago. It was the first Chinese-government organized trip for a union, she said.

Starting this fall, Chapin said, she will work with Carrolltowne's School Improvement Team of parents and community members to explore new ideas.

The Board of Education and administrators have said that, while they want systemwide agreement on what skills children should have at various levels, individual schools will be able to decide how those skills are taught.

"The principal needs to have some kind of vision for where they want the school to go," Chapin said.

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