Mentors & Advocates Resources


danforth mentors & advocates

Danforth students often cite the strong support they receive from their on-site mentors and UW advocates during their internship as an essential component of their leadership development. The intern, mentor and advocate form a cohesive team with the common goal of crafting, enacting and evaluating an instructional leadership-focused internship plan based on the authentic work of principals and program administrators.

This page offers guidance on the specific roles of mentors and advocates, along with links to associated resources that help support this work. Click on the name of the role you are interested in below to see more information.

  • On-Site Mentors
    • Thank you for agreeing to participate in the Danforth internship experience, which is one of the foundational cornerstones of this program. This Web page will serve as a place to access valuable information and resources that will help you succeed in your important role as a Danforth mentor. It also outlines the specific roles and responsibilities taken on by you, the intern and the UW internship advocate.
    • Mentor's Record of Success as a Leader

    • A set of guiding principles is central to the Danforth Educational Leadership Program. Since the program's beginning at the University of Washington in 1988, faculty have been committed to offering integrated curriculum and field-based learning built on a solid foundation of values-based principles that define what it means to be an educational leader in a democratic society. The Danforth program seeks mentors who share a commitment to these core principles.
    • Commitment to the Danforth Guiding Principles

    • Mentor principals and program administrators are role models and thought partners for interns and, as such, they must possess strong and effective leadership skills our students can learn from. Mentor assignments are the result of a combination of factors. In some cases, students arrange for an internship within their current school or district, possibly with a mentor they already know and work with. District leadership is often involved in these decisions. If necessary, Danforth will help students connect with potential mentors and internship sites. In either scenario, the emphasis is on matching each student with a mentor who has a demonstrated history of successful leadership and a commitment to developing aspiring leaders. Thank you for taking on this vital role in the preparation of a school leader.
    • Facilitating Leadership Development

    • Danforth interns are required to document at least 1,000 hours of authentic leadership work at one or more internship sites throughout the year (1,360 hours for students earning both the principal and program administrator certifications). Interns log at least 400 of these hours in actions aligned with Standard 2 of the Educational Leadership Policy Standards (ISLLC 2008). Mentors support this work by providing ongoing experience in the following instructional leadership areas:
      • Participating in, facilitating and/or leading learning walks, lesson study cycles and learning studio models
      • Conducting informal observation cycles to gain practice in pre-observation conferences, scripting, analysis and guiding post-observation conversations with teacher candidates or volunteer in-service teachers
      • Facilitating or leading teams in data analysis, equity audits and/or program evaluation
      • Facilitating or leading teams in developing common assessments, examining student work or creating team or department learning products
      • Developing and delivering culturally responsive professional learning experiences aligned to identified district and/or building-level needs
      • Facilitating or leading a cycle of inquiry team to identify a learning-centered problem and explore and shape practices to improve student learning outcomes
      • Partnering with families, students and community groups to explore learning through different lenses and perspectives
    • The internship experience closely follows the public school calendar. Interns begin their internship by asking permission to shadow school-level or district-level administrators as they prepare to end the school year. Next, interns assist with the opening of school at a district-level, building-level or combined internship beginning in August. Students are expected to expand their experience, skills and knowledge throughout the internship, to thoughtfully and intentionally move from the role of observer to participant and, finally, to serve as a facilitator and/or leader whenever appropriate. Internships typically conclude in June, or for students participating in multiple internships, at an earlier time agreed on by the intern and on-site mentor.
    • Mentor Responsibilities

      1. Participate in mentor meetings. Danforth mentors participate in group meetings during August or September to provide orientation to the program, establish expectations and link the internship experience with the Danforth curriculum. In addition, the meetings are a forum to discuss the mentor's role in the internship experience, reflect upon the qualities of a good mentor and raise concerns, issues and program suggestions. Mid-year assessment meetings are typically scheduled during December or January and end-of-program meetings occur in May. Mentors are also welcome to join the cohort for a Thursday or Saturday session during the year.
      2. Meet regularly with the intern and provide opportunities for professional growth. The mentor principal provides numerous opportunities for the intern to observe and participate in activities that typify the responsibilities of a principal or program administrator. It is critically important for the mentor to schedule regular meetings with the intern to shape the intern's plan, share perceptions, answer questions and provide feedback. One of the key ways that interns learn is through reflection on key leadership decisions with guidance from their mentor.
      3. Meet as needed with the UW internship advocate. In addition to the three scheduled meetings with the UW Advocate, the advocate and mentor may meet more often to discuss the intern's progress, answer questions and help resolve any concerns the mentor, or intern, may have.
      4. Support the internship plan and complete the mid-year assessment and end-of-internship evaluation. The mentor agrees to be responsible for helping the intern meet his or her goals. At the midpoint of the internship the mentor, intern and advocate meet to assess progress to date, review and revise the internship plan as needed. At the conclusion of the internship, the mentor completes the evaluation of the intern's work and demonstrated competence on the ISLLC Standards and program competency standards. The evaluation report is shared with the intern and both documents are submitted to the University of Washington as part of the official certification record.
      5. Serve as a co-learner and thought partner. Mentor principals commit to actively facilitating the intern's learning and growth during the Danforth program. Often, program assignments require the intern to interview mentors about specific topics, share a reading or digital resource and engage in inquiry. Strong mentors commit to willingly be part of the intern's learning.
  • UW Advocates
    • The mentor role is supplemented with guidance from a university-appointed internship advocate who has a record of excellence in leadership positions. Our UW advocates are experienced school and/or district-level leaders; some are retired and others serve in the advocate role while working in districts and schools. Joint planning and evaluation meetings with the mentor principal or program administrator, the UW advocate and the intern are held at least three times during each internship. All parties participate in developing internship plans, monitoring progress and meeting regularly at the internship site.
    • UW Advocate Responsibilities

      1. Arrange meetings. The UW will arrange at least three meetings between the mentor and the UW advocate during the internship. Ideally, the first meeting will take place before the fourth week of September.
      2. Meet individually with the intern. This is an opportunity to discover how the intern is managing to balance all aspects of the Danforth program. Are they keeping up with the reading and assignments? Do they have suggestions or concerns about the internship or modules? Advocates might ask the intern to give a tour of their school site to observe how well they know and relate to students, staff and teachers.
      3. Meet with the intern and mentor.
        • Review the internship plan in detail. Ask probing questions about the intern's assigned tasks. Are they challenging? Do they require the intern to take risks? Do they cover a range of skills? Are there connections to the program content? Do they deeply align with the ISLLC standards?
        • Discuss the current program assignments, answer questions and encourage connections between the modules and the internship. Ask the mentor whether they have concerns or questions.
        • Remind the mentor about the mid-year assessment and end-of-internship evaluation form.
      4. Write a follow-up letter to the mentor summarizing the discussion. Advocates are asked to send a copy to both the intern and the Danforth office for inclusion in the intern's file.
      5. Email Danforth Director Ann O'Doherty to let her know about any concerns raised during visits.
      6. Arrange monthly intern visits. Since the internship experience is tailored to the needs of the intern, schedule at least one visit per month with periodic follow up through phone calls, texts or emails.
      7. Conduct a final visit. Ideally, the final visit should be a review of the internship summary and the mentor's evaluation of the intern. The final visit is another opportunity to check on general progress and to ask the mentor principal to share their program suggestions or concerns. It is also an opportunity for the mentor to tell the intern what he or she did well and to share suggestions for personal growth.