Posted on February 11, 2022
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Categories: News from SDP

The School District of Philadelphia, in partnership with Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania, is launching a new leadership program aimed at preparing aspiring school principals and education leaders. Beginning in the summer of 2022, current School District of Philadelphia employees enrolled in the Pathway to Leadership Principal Preparation Program will receive traditional certification preparation classwork, coaching and mentorship, as well as a $25,000 scholarship to attend either of the schools.

“School leaders are among the most important leaders in the entire city, and our District and students deserve a strong pipeline of qualified and well-trained individuals capable of leading our schools,” said Michael Farrell, Deputy Chief of Leadership Development, School District of Philadelphia. “This program is a pathway for aspiring leaders, building up the supports for those who are interested in moving into leadership.”

This program also works to develop equity-centered leaders by diversifying the pipeline of individuals seeking roles as a principal within the School District of Philadelphia. In particular, the District is focused on developing three groups, who currently and historically are underrepresented compared to the student demographic: Black males, Lantix, and Asian future leaders. While the program is open to future leaders of all backgrounds, future leaders of color are strongly encouraged to apply.

“CASA is pleased that the district recognizes the need to provide different pathways for employees seeking career advancement but who previously had no clear-cut path to be able to advance,” said Robin Cooper, Ed.D., president of the Teamsters Local 502 of the Commonwealth Association of School Administrators (CASA). “The Pathway to Leadership program appears to understand the need to recruit exceptional leaders from closely aligned fields such as climate managers moving into the direction of assistant principals and principals. CASA members, especially those who have traditionally not been represented at higher administrative opportunities, are enthusiastic that such a program was created with them in mind.”

The program is a collaborative effort between the District, Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania.

“Temple is excited to be partnering with the School District of Philadelphia at this very critical time in public education,” said Christopher McGinley, Ed.D., Professor, Temple University’s College of Education. “We are pleased to continue our long standing partnership in preparing the next generation of principals to lead our city’s schools.”

“We are excited to partner with The School District of Philadelphia Pathway to Leadership Program in developing diverse and equity-centered future school leaders,” said Jessica Richard, Associate Director, School Leadership Program, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. “Strong educational leaders make an outsized impact on schools. This partnership demonstrates our shared commitment, alongside Temple, to remove barriers and enable greater access, opportunity, and preparation for a new generation of school leadership in Philadelphia.”

The District has committed three million dollars over the next three years to support this initiative, which encourages retention and growth by helping talented staff attain the appropriate training leading to certification to become school leaders. The program is the result of two successful pilot programs. The first pilot, which started in 2019, trained four principals through the University of Pennsylvania. The second pilot finished in December and trained five aspiring principals through Temple University.

“I had always thought of pursuing a leadership position within my first three years of teaching Special Education because I saw the effect that my presence, dedication and tough but fair approach was having on my 15 students,” said Darnell Bolds, a climate manager at Edward T. Steel Public School. Bolds was part of the first cohort with Temple University. “So, when I heard about the Pathways to Leadership program I was scared but yet excited at the opportunity to learn more about leadership and the opportunity to impart my knowledge on a wider audience of students.”

The Pathway to Leadership Principal Preparation Program is the fourth District program aimed at preparing and strengthening school leaders, and the only one that works with individuals for pre-certification. These programs are intended to provide school and educational leaders with the skills, support and coaching that they need entering the District’s highest-needs schools.

Interested candidates should apply by March 1 through the Office of Leadership Development.