As the NYC Leadership Academy team gears up for another busy summer of education leader training and support, we are energized by the start of new work with District of Columbia Public Schools and our continued collaboration with Fort Wayne Community Schools (Indiana). We are helping both clients create sustainable leadership development solutions that reflect their local context and priorities.

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS)

NYCLA is working with DC Public Schools to refine and strengthen the curriculum design and delivery of the district’s Mary Jane Patterson Fellowship for Aspiring Principals – a program created to prepare the most talented, resilient, high-potential DCPS employees for the role of the principalship. This fellowship creates an internal pipeline in the district of highly qualified leaders who have participated in rigorous training that includes a summer intensive followed by a school-based residency under the guidance of an experienced mentor principal.

NYCLA is leveraging our wealth of knowledge and experience from more than a decade of principal preparation programming to support DCPS in strengthening this critical program. Specifically, NYCLA is helping DCPS develop and deliver a comprehensive curriculum for the summer intensive to ensure that it addresses the unique needs of the district and reflects its commitment to educational equity. The curriculum includes assignments, mini-lessons, readings, and numerous hands-on learning opportunities – all of which are connected to a NYCLA-designed simulation school which the aspiring leaders will “lead” over the course of the summer intensive. The simulation school provides DCPS aspiring principals with the opportunity to experience realistic school leadership challenges and establish strategies and behaviors that effectively address these challenges.

Three members of the DCPS core team attended NYCLA’s multi-district facilitator training in May to learn how to facilitate the learning of the aspiring leaders over the course of the summer. They sharpened their skills to:  tailor teaching strategies based on their diagnosis of individuals and groups; design strategic, focused interventions in order to push summer participants’  thinking; provoke and contain participants’ discomfort in the service of learning; and understand  assessment of self and others as a teaching and learning tool.

Additionally, NYCLA is providing mentor training to the principals who will support the aspiring leaders during the residency phase of the program. Specifically, we are focusing on the mentors’ role in providing learning experiences for participants and assessing participant progress against standards.

Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS)

Fort Wayne Community Schools in Indiana recently received a $3.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education through the Turnaround School Leaders Program. FWCS is using this funding to provide intensive leadership development and support for leadership teams in schools during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years.

To support FWCS in their work to turnaround the district’s underperforming schools, NYCLA is providing two services over the next three years. First, leveraging curriculum from NYCLA’s Leading School-Level Change (LSLC) program model, we will design and deliver professional learning for a targeted group of principals and their leadership teams. This professional learning will focus on developing school leadership skills and cultivating distributive leadership behaviors among the principal and school team resulting in an immediate impact on both organizational capacity and instructional quality within a school. The year-long program will support each school leadership team’s ability to make urgent and critical changes in their schools to build positive school cultures and increase learning for all students.

Parallel to the school leadership team support, we will work with the district’s five Directors, a group of principal supervisors working with principals throughout the district. The Directors will play an integral role in the delivery of school leadership team program provide regular coaching support for the participating principals and working with the NYCLA team on the design and delivery of the ongoing professional learning opportunities. The Directors will also be part of this summer’s Foundations of Principal Supervision cohort, through which they will strengthen their vision, develop the skills to build principals’ instructional leadership capacity and plan for the year ahead. NYCLA will further support the Directors during the school year through a series of workshops, in-field observations, and one-on-one conversations aimed at strengthening their coaching and supervision skills.

The overall goal for the two-pronged approach is to immediately support principals and teams in schools with complex challenges, while simultaneously building the capacity of the district leadership. The five principals and teams with whom we are working this year will serve as a pilot for broader district-wide support in the future. Through our partnership, the FWCS Directors and central office will have the skills needed to sustain quality leadership support and supervision across FWCS.