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News and Speeches

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott Announces Details on Four New Programs Focused on Developing Teachers’ Leadership Skills


The Department is training 134 apprentice principals and more than 300 teacher leaders this school year.

Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott today highlighted several new ways that New York City is investing in developing the leadership capacity of its teachers. Speaking at a panel discussion presented by WNET and the Wallace Foundation, Chancellor Walcott discussed these new initiatives, which will focus on cultivating teachers’ leadership skills as they take their first steps toward school leadership.

“A strong teacher in front of the classroom and a strong principal leading the school are among the most powerful influences on student achievement,” said Chancellor Walcott. “This investment we are making in our teachers will help us to identify and prepare the next generation of excellent school leaders in New York City.”

Through a generous grant from the Wallace Foundation, which last year committed to provide New York City with up to $12.5 million towards leadership development initiatives over the next several years, the DOE has allotted significant resources to leadership training to increase the number of high-quality candidates to fill the district’s approximately 150 principal vacancies each year. While the DOE’s work to develop a strong leadership pipeline for its schools has been an ongoing focus throughout the Bloomberg Administration, this year the focus has shifted toward nurturing the leadership skills of talented educators earlier in their careers.

The DOE’s four new teacher-focused leadership initiatives include two created by the DOE and two new partnerships:

  • The DOE’s Teacher Leadership Program;
  • The Mentoring Excellence Program created by the DOE’s Office of New Schools;
  • A collaboration between CUNY and the NYC Leadership Academy focused on aspiring middle school principals; and
  • New Leaders’ Emerging Leaders program.

The DOE’s Teacher Leadership Program, launching later this month, is designed to strengthen the knowledge and coaching skills of teachers already serving in leadership roles in their schools. Through a series of after-school workshops facilitated by strong principals and other leaders across the City, participants will develop the skills needed to lead instructional improvements in
their schools. The DOE received nearly 1,000 applicants for 250 slots in the inaugural program. Successful graduates may consider applying to a principal development program to further strengthen their leadership skills and prepare for roles as school leaders.

In addition, this week the DOE’s Office of New Schools launched the innovative Mentoring Excellence Initiative, in which successful, experienced principals mentor talented educators within their buildings and support them through the successful development of a new school. Mentor principals provide their mentees with support through every step of the process, including leadership strategies and aligning staff around a clear instructional vision. 15 of the most promising new school principals selected over the last two years came from the pilot of this mentor program; the DOE is now expanding Mentoring Excellence to produce more top-notch school leaders—up to 40 for this school year (selections are still in process).

The DOE also collaborated with the NYC Leadership Academy and CUNY to create the Collaborative for Future Middle School Principals, which launched this fall with the aim of increasing the number of first-rate middle school leaders in New York City. 20 teacher leaders were selected to participate in the initial cohort of this two-year program. And the DOE has expanded its partnership with New Leaders by serving as one of the early sites for its Emerging Leaders program, which aims to strengthen the leadership skills of talented teachers and place participants on a path toward becoming principals. 22 New York City educators are taking part in this year’s program.

These four new programs focused on developing teachers’ leadership skills will complement—and ultimately feed into—the Department’s existing principal preparation programs, including the Leaders In Education Apprenticeship Program (LEAP), New Leaders, and the NYC Leadership Academy Aspiring Principals’ Program. In addition, the DOE welcomes new Wallace Foundation-supported partnerships this year with Bank Street College’s Principals Institute, the Columbia University Teachers College Summer Principals Academy, and the Relay Graduate School of Education in partnership with Teach For America.

Across these principal preparation programs, the DOE is training 134 apprentice principals and more than 300 teacher leaders this school year. Our goal is that the vast majority of the apprentice principals will take on leadership roles in our schools beginning in Fall 2013, and that the strongest teacher leaders will soon follow in their footsteps.