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How iLEAD helped a vice-principal find his passion

Richard Benberry was a 13-year teacher when he really started to evaluate what the next steps of his career would be. Perhaps aBenberry2 move into administration, but he wasn’t completely sure that was the right choice for him. A conversation with a friend led Richard to the iLEAD Principal Preparation program at the University of Indianapolis. At the very least, he could try it out and see if this was something he wanted to pursue.

“My first class sold me on the program,” Richard says. “The superintendent of Brownsburg schools, Dr. Jim Snapp, taught the class and he really opened my eyes to what district-level administrators are looking for in great principals.”

Learning from working administrators is a hallmark of UIndy’s iLEAD program. For Richard, the real life scenarios they brought to the classroom were invaluable. For example, Richard’s professor Dr. Snapp experienced a district website hack, a situation he in turn incorporated in classroom discussion.

“It showed me a lot about him, that he is always thinking about the perception of his school,” Richard explains. “That’s what a working professional brings–they can share pitfalls but they can also share where they’ve been successful.”

In addition to serving as principal, Richard is the defensive coordinator for the WildKats football team.

In addition to serving as vice-principal, Richard is the defensive coordinator for the Wildkats football team.

In addition to practical instructors, the format of iLEAD was a difference-maker for Richard. Classes meet only five Saturdays a semester in combination with online instruction. That flexibility helped Richard balance his life–teaching, coaching football, caring for a newborn, and attending graduate school is a lot to juggle.

“I didn’t always have to worry about getting to a class, I knew it was on Saturday, and not even every Saturday so I could continue with football,” Richard says. “There was a lot of reading because there isn’t always class time, but the readings weren’t boring. The content was something I needed to know and wanted to know.”

Following his graduation from the iLEAD program in 2014, Richard was hired as the vice-principal at Kokomo High School. As he closes in on his third year as an administrator, Richard is proud that his impact jumped from seeing 140 kids a year as a teacher to an entire academy now as vice-principal. He credits his willingness to focus on tough issues like discipline for helping him make the jump to administration, along with the preparation he received at UIndy.

“I believe this program played a significant role in my advancement to administration. It was probably one of the best choices I’ve made, honestly.”

Contact Whitnie Shay at 317-788-2004 or shayw@uindy.edu for more information on iLEAD. You can also start your application today.