leadership academy

Pilot Principals

New York

In a change, city is steering aspiring principals off the fast track

Realizing that its strategies for stocking the city's ever-expanding supply of schools with excellent principals have fallen short, the Department of Education is launching new programs aimed at slowing down the transition from teacher to administrator. The largest of the new initiatives is the Teacher Leadership Program, aimed at developing leadership skills in hundreds of teachers who are still working in the classroom. Other initiatives are meant to prepare leaders to handle the special challenges of running middle schools and to capitalize on the leadership skills of principals who are already in the system. And a foundation that helped the city underwrite a fast-track principal training program is now paying for educators to earn degrees in school administration at local universities. "Most of our principal training work that we've done historically is focused on that last year before you become a principal," Chief Academic Office Shael Polakow-Suransky said. "It's the last step in the process, and what we've come to understand is that there [are] a lot of steps that happen before that in someone's career. ... We want to begin to do that kind of training." The new programs represent a strong shift away from the Bloomberg administration's early approach to cultivating school leadership at a time when the city is losing about 150 principals a year, even as it has ramped up new school creation. Together with existing programs, they are set to produce 134 new principals and engage 300 teachers this year, according to the department.
New York

The principal of a school newly slated for closure speaks out

Margaret McAuley, principal at Chappie D. James Elementary School of Science, questions the extent of support provided by the Department of Education to her struggling school. Just hours after learning that Chappie D. James Elementary School of Science would be phased out, Principal Margaret McAuley publicly registered her concerns about the process that had brought the school to the point of closure. McAuley testified Thursday evening at a meeting of the Citywide Council on Special Education, an elected parent group, which had been set aside to discuss closures well before the city announced yesterday that it would shutter 12 schools. After the Department of Education's director of engagement strategy, Meg Barboza, narrated a PowerPoint presentation about the city's closure strategy, fielding challenges from council members along the way, McAuley took the microphone. As music from a principals union event wafted into the second-floor meeting room at Brooklyn Borough Hall, McAuley described her efforts to serve students at her Brownsville school, which she started in 2008 after a previous school in the building had been closed because of poor performance. She said she had chased down resources and partnerships, sought out extra training for teachers, brought in computers and programming for parents, and put new expectations in place for students. McAuley said she wasn't surprised by the school's first progress report grade last year, a D — scores remained very low. But she said they were improving, slowly but surely and unfortunately not in a way that this year's report card grade, an F, could capture. Most of all, she said, she hadn't been informed that her school's performance wasn't up to par until October, when the city added it to the shortlist of potential closures.