An E-newsletter on EXCELLENCE in Leadership

February 2021 | Volume 9, No. 6

Who Can Be My Mentor?

Principals, particularly those who are new or in a new assignment, can benefit by entering into a mentoring relationship with an experienced educational leader. In collaboration with the conference superintendent of schools, identify quality and experienced principals who will be willing to work with you.

Not only is it important to build a relationship with an experienced school principal, but it is also important to build a team of local people who know your community and can help you navigate some of the challenges. (Helpful Hint: the first person in a new community to befriend you may or may not be the best mentor–be aware of confidentiality issues and hidden agendas!)


A respected, experienced educational leader can be a mentor who will be particularly helpful as you:

  • Brainstorm on all aspects of the school program.
  • Build a faculty team.
  • Deal with day-to-day stress.
  • Delegate responsibilities.
  • Desire a nonjudgmental listening ear.
  • Develop and implement a budget.
  • Evaluate forms and procedures.
  • Foster relationships with constituent churches and pastors.
  • Generate professional development ideas.
  • Grow as a spiritual leader on campus.
  • Implement conference and union policy.
  • Interact with difficult parents.
  • Provide instructional leadership including teacher evaluation.
  • Process sensitive disciplinary situations.
  • Seek accountability for maintaining balance in your life.
  • Work through the accreditation process.



Why Mentoring Is Important

By Carla Thrower | Principal—Takoma Academy




According to the Southern Regional Education Board, "Good Principals Aren't Born – They're Mentored".

Mentoring school leaders is vital for the longevity of the school. Investing in providing mentorship for school principals adds value to the school and the school system. It shows that support for the school administrator is important and esteemed. The faculty, staff, parents and students observe this value. A school leader, administrator, or principal does not walk into the school's door fully prepared to tackle the known and, most importantly, the unknown in the school building's confines and beyond without adequate support. A mentor can provide this support for the school leader.

While the novice school leader needs to have a mentor's guidance, it is equally necessary for the experienced school leader to have ongoing support. Mentorship programs can enhance the school's effectiveness while providing the school leader with encouragement, assistance, and the collaboration needed to maintain a strong school program.

An effective mentor relationship includes three components:

Transparency & Honesty:  The school leader is seeking approval from their mentor; however, what is of utmost importance is that the school leader has opportunities for growth, constructive feedback, and strategies for success.

Time & Commitment:  In building a school leader, time and commitment to the process are required. It is important to have designated time to meet with consistency and purpose. This dedicated time adds value to the mentorship process that can transfer to faculty and staff alike.

Reflection:  The principal-mentor relationship should include ongoing opportunities to reflect on areas of success in the school and challenges that have arisen. In this way, areas for improvement are determined and prioritized. Faculty-staff relationships, program growth, and the overall well-being of the principal become a priority. When reflection is at the forefront of the principal-mentor relationship, the principal and mentor can determine areas of improvement and necessary adjustments.

Southern Regional Education Board 2007, Good Principals Aren't Born – They're Mentored, accessed 10 February 2021, https://www.sreb.org/publication/good-principals-arent-born-theyre-mentored.



Putting the Plan into Action

Adapted from the article written by

Anjuli Sastry and Andee Tagle

for npr




Imagine this:  Someone you admire sets aside time to meet, sharing how they accomplished their goals, cheering you on, and giving you feedback and advice. That is what we call a mentor.

The right mentoring relationship can be a powerful tool for professional growth and even a better work-life balance.

One of the trickiest things about mentoring is that it is often informal, making it difficult to find an entry point. Here is how to find a good mentor, make the ask, and make it work.

Finding the Right Mentor

  1. Know your goals (both short and long term). What do you want to accomplish professionally—in the next three months and in the next three years?
  2. Who do you look up to? Who do you admire in the way they do their job? Who is your immediate role model?
  3. Be aware of your existing network. The more aware someone already is of your work and abilities, the more effective they will be at mentoring you. Think about whether someone is already informally mentoring you—can you ask them for more help? If someone is not aware of your work or you have never talked to them, look for a connection.
  4. Recognize the difference between a mentor and a sponsor. Mentors give advice but cannot be involved in getting you a new job. Sponsors can do that. Do not expect a mentor to be a sponsor, but a mentor can put you in touch with a sponsor.

Why is mentoring aspiring school leaders important?

Mentoring school leaders is vital in continuing bridges of leadership. When approached correctly, it encourages collaboration, innovation, and best practices.

Choosing a Mentor

Keith Beckett

Vice Principal—Takoma Academy


Shemika Campbell

Academic Support Specialist—Takoma Academy

All leaders need a supportive community of like-minded individuals to foster and cultivate their leadership skills. School administration is a position that can benefit from mentorship. School leaders have the tremendous task of creating a culture that determines the success of their school. This role can be a lonely position. The responsibility of a school administration is demanding. As a school leader, you are concerned about the needs of your students, parents, faculty, staff, and stakeholders.

Throughout the Bible, we have seen how mentorship has developed great leaders like David, Elisha, Esther. Proverbs 27:17 states that "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." School leaders need mentors who will challenge, inspire, and motivate them to be effective and competent leaders.

When choosing a mentor, there are some key factors to look for in an individual:

  1. Look for someone who will provide an outline or road map that will give you the big picture by helping direct you to maneuver which roads to take and which to avoid.
  2. Look for someone who creates a safe place for you to make mistakes, thus providing a non-judgment zone that will foster growth.
  3. Look for someone who will provide stability and support.
  4. Look for someone who will empower you to blossom beyond what you think are your capabilities.
  5. Look for someone who will encourage you to pay it forward to those who come behind you.






Interview with

Jerson Malaguit |  Principal—Beltsville Adventist School

What does an effective mentoring process look like?

Effective mentoring has goals, objectives, accountability, and a commitment to confidentiality and honesty between the coach and coachee.

Do you recommend that all school administrators seek a mentor?

Unequivocally yes!

Making the Ask

  1. Have an elevator pitch ready. Be clear of your goals and why you think this person is the right mentor for you. Be upfront about your time commitment and what you are willing to put into the relationship and what you expect from them.
  2. Make sure it is the right fit. You can feel this out by having informal meetings to discuss your goals before asking them to be your mentor.
  3. Mention what you like about the person’s work, especially if you have never met.
  4. Mentoring can happen virtually!

Tips on Being a Good Mentor

  1. Goals still matter. Continuing to discuss your goals can help you stay on track when meeting with a mentor.
  2. Meet consistently. Figure out how often and for how long and make it consistent.
  3. Be open to feedback: positive or constructive. Accept compliments and be open to hearing tough feedback.
  4. This relationship is not a therapy session. We are human, and often personal issues will come into play during your sessions. It is okay to vent but make sure not to monopolize the session with personal matters.
  5. It is okay to have a board of mentors. No one mentor can help you achieve all your goals.
  6. Say thank you!

NPR 2020, The Right Mentor Can Change Your Career. Here's How to Find One, accessed 10 February 2021, https://www.npr.org/2019/10/25/773158390/how-to-find-a-mentor-and-make-it-work

A mentor is not someone who walks ahead of us to show us how they did it.

A mentor walks alongside us to show us what we can do.

by Simon Sinek


Issue Coordinator

Carla Thrower


Takoma Academy

Newsletter Editor

Berit von Pohle, Editor

Director of Education,

Pacific Union Conference

Ed Boyatt, Editorial Advisor