Hardin Park Principal Mary Smalling Completes Leadership Program

Last Updated on May 20, 2013 1:30 pm

Hardin Park Principal Mary Smalling has completed the Distinguished Leadership Program (DLP), a year-long leadership development program provided for school principals by the North Carolina Principals and Assistant Principal’s Association in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and UNC-LearnNC.

“This program has provided valuable resources and fresh perspectives on school leadership,” said Smalling. “I look forward to using what I’ve learned to support Hardin Park’s students, parents, and school personnel in making this an even more successful and inclusive school.”
Smalling has been principal at Hardin Park for 13 years and was the Watauga County Schools Principal of the Year for 2005-06. She served as an assistant principal at Hardin Park and at Watauga High School before becoming principal at Hardin Park.

The Distinguished Leadership in Practice Program (DLP) uses a non-traditional professional development model aligned to the performance evaluation standards for NC school principals. The program reduces principals’ time away from their schools by allowing them to attend face-to-face sessions once every other month while accessing on-line assignments, materials and coaching in between face-to-face sessions. Principals engage in a series of authentic activities throughout the experience to help build the capacity of their schools and their own capacity as exceptional school leaders.

“The leadership of the school principal is clearly one of the most important factors in school quality,” noted Dr. Shirley Prince, executive director of the North Carolina Principals and Assistant Principals’ Association (NCPAPA). “In completing this very rigorous program, DLP graduates like Mrs. Smalling have demonstrated their commitment to continuous improvement by strengthening their leadership skills and their schools.”

NCPAPA represents 4,500 members as the preeminent state level organization for principals, assistant principals, and aspiring school leaders. More information about the organization is available online at

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