Robert Fulton (left), superintendent of the Cape Henlopen School District, with Kevin Carson, Executive Leadership Academy facilitator and executive director of the Delaware Association of School Administrators.

Enhancing school leadership

Executive Leadership Academy prepares aspiring school superintendents

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9:14 a.m., Aug. 7, 2014--In 2013, the University of Delaware’s Delaware Academy for School Leaders (DASL) launched an Executive Leadership Academy (ELA), preparing aspiring superintendents and executive school leaders to successfully lead districts and charter schools. 

The key topics addressed during ELA sessions pertained to government, law, human resources, collective bargaining, education, and leadership. 

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As a result of significant interest from administrators statewide, a second cohort was formed in June 2014 that includes 22 leaders, representing 14 school districts and a state agency. 

“The ELA fills an important learning gap for many school leaders by addressing key education related topics and by providing practical experiences that can be applied to the many challenges in schools and school districts,” said Steven Godowsky, ELA project director.

First year ELA participants indicated that the academy provided a meaningful learning opportunity. Participants explored relevant education topics, shared practical experiences through mentor groups, used the latest research, applied best leadership practices to school problems, and gained knowledge of their individual leadership styles.

Dean Ivory, a high school principal in the Christina School District, commented, “The ELA was a powerful and rewarding professional learning experience. The opportunity to learn from my peers and from expert practitioners was truly amazing.” 

The participants in this year’s cohort completed a “Work of Leader” comprehensive leadership profile. They were assigned a mentor, received a workplace visit by their mentor, and participated in a recorded mock interview with constructive feedback. 

The centerpiece of the academy is the identification and development of a “Problem of Practice,” which evolves through planned activities throughout the course of the program. As a culminating ELA event, “Problems of Practice” reports are presented during a simulated school board meeting.

“The Executive Leadership Academy provides our cohort members the opportunity to review and address real life school district administrative planning opportunities and challenges, which serves as essential preparation for a superintendent position,” said Kevin Carson, ELA facilitator and executive director of the Delaware Association of School Administrators.

DASL is a professional development, research and policy center within the College of Education and Human Development, working to improve public education by developing school district leaders. It offers several programs and services benefiting superintendents and their executive leadership teams, including the ELA, Executive Leadership Coaching, Principal Supervisor Training, and the Superintendent/ Executive Leadership Seminar Series conducted in coordination with UD’s Institute for Public Administration (IPA), which is in the School of Public Policy and Administration in the College of Arts and Sciences.

ELA is led by Godowsky with planning and facilitator team support from Sharon Brittingham, DASL program associate; three retired superintendents, Kevin Carson, George Meney and Tony Marchio; and assistance from recognized experts who have generously given of their time and expertise to make the academy an intense and meaningful experience. ELA receives fiscal support from the Delaware Department of Education.

For more information regarding the Executive Leadership Academy, contact Godowsky at sgodow@udel.edu or by calling 302-831-8642. ELA information can also be accessed through the DASL website.

Article by Alison Burris

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