News from the Delaware Leadership Project

August 21st, 2014

Category: Policy and Practice

This blog post was written by Shefon Taylor, Marketing and Development Coordinator at Innovative Schools.

At the beginning of July, the state of Delaware welcomed its fourth cohort of aspiring principals to the Delaware Leadership Project, the state’s only alternate route to principal certification. The fourteen-month program was launched as part of Delaware’s Race to the Top plan to ensure that all of Delaware’s students have access to transformational leadership and great schools. Over four years, the Delaware Leadership Project has received national recognition for its ability to develop an elite cohort of outstanding school leaders through non-traditional means. Fourteen months of meaningful project based learning and an intense school based residency are equipping Delaware Leadership Project graduates with the skills and habits of mind they need to respond to real school challenges in real time with solutions that raise the bar on student achievement. This investment in dollars and time to rethink the way we prepare school leaders is paying off. Today, the 12 graduates of the program are reaching nearly 6,000 of Delaware’s highest need students. Each of them has committed the first three years of their leadership career to Delaware’s highest need, hardest to staff schools. In June, this elite cohort of leaders who have already graduated from the Delaware Leadership Project were joined by seven additional aspiring principals.

The Delaware Leadership Project has successfully recruited candidates from across the country through a rigorous application process to identify those with prior instructional experience as well as evidence that they have been able to make strides in closing the achievement gap.

“Leading a struggling school to dramatically improve student achievement is hard work and it requires a personal commitment to social justice, instructional leadership and to consensus building,” shared Debbie Doordan, Executive Director of Innovative Schools. “In our application process, we are evaluating candidates to determine if they have the attributes of transformational and instructional leaders such as resilience; strong time, task and project management skills; situational problem solving; capacity to discuss and analyze projects that were unsuccessful; willingness to expose oneself as a public learner; and the ability to recognize school challenges typically involving a set of interconnected, underlying issues.”

The Delaware Leadership Project identifies candidates who exhibit these behaviors and helps them further develop and mold their leadership skills through fifteen months of intensive training, which includes a 6-week summer intensive, a year-long residency in a high-need Delaware school under the tutelage of a mentor principal, and a planning summer to prepare for transition to a school leadership position. Graduates of the program receive additional support through two years of coaching.

Trained by and alongside Delaware principals, graduates of the Delaware Leadership Project have had the unique opportunity to put theory and curriculum into practice for over a year before they assume an independent leadership position. The intensive program has prepared them to effectively lead public schools through challenging circumstances by building a collaborative community of instructional support.

“We are excited to welcome this year’s cohort, which includes seven individuals with diverse experiences from Pennsylvania, Delaware, South Carolina, New York, and Maryland,” offered Angela Morton, Delaware Leadership Project Chief Program Officer. “Each class brings new perspectives and challenges that keep our training fresh and responsive to the needs of our traditional public and charter schools.”

The Delaware Leadership Project has provided a vital new pathway to increase the pool of high performing principals who are prepared to improve student outcomes in Delaware’s highest-need, hardest-to-staff schools. The program’s success can be attributed to the hard work of DLP staff, the Delaware Department of Education’s Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Unit and districts and charter schools that have opened their schools as residency sites. Participants have included the Red Clay, Brandywine, Christina, Colonial, Capital, Woodbridge and Seaford School Districts as well as East Side, Kuumba, and Prestige Academy Charter Schools.

Rodel Foundation of Delaware



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