The Delaware Leadership Project (DLP) -- an intensive 14-month training program for aspiring school leaders that is the state’s first alternate route to principal certification pathway -- launches this week. The first cohort of seven candidates begins its intensive summer training today. This fall, this inaugural cohort will begin year-long residencies at schools throughout the state, working beside seasoned school leaders who will provide mentoring and coaching to participants.
Funded with a portion of the state’s $119 million federal Race to the Top grant, significant local private funding, and district and charter school contributions, the Delaware Leadership Project is designed to attract, develop, place and support a select cohort of outstanding school leaders to work in Delaware’s highest-need schools each year.
In only its first year of recruitment, the Delaware Leadership Project received more than 90 applications for seven positions. Admission to DLP is highly selective and the program is cost-free to participants. Participants receive a stipend that is competitive with their current salary.
“This program will help us bring new school leaders with strong educational backgrounds, deep classroom experience and a passion to work with our highest-need schools across the state,” Secretary of Education Lillian M. Lowery said, adding that this is a unique opportunity that Race to the Top has provided Delaware to invest in some of the state’s future leaders.
“We are attracting and preparing new school leaders with an interest, innovation and industriousness that will help our schools become the best in the country,” said Governor Jack Markell. “Their leadership will help us strengthen our schools so more students realize their potential, including their dreams in higher education and the world of work.”
In March, the Delaware Professional Standards Board (PSB) approved DLP for a two-cohort pilot alternative-route to certification program. The State Board of Education followed this by voting unanimously to approve the Delaware Leadership Project at its April 21, 2011 meeting. The Department of Education recently signed a 2-year contract with Wilmington-based Innovative Schools, the non-profit public school resource center that brought this program to Delaware and will run the initiative under DDOE’s oversight.
“This is a unique professional development opportunity for exceptional and highly motivated instructional leaders,” said Debbie Doordan, executive director of Innovative Schools. “We looked for candidates who are committed to closing the achievement gap and are able to commit a minimum of three years of service to Delaware’s highest-need public schools.”
Innovative Schools is modeling the Delaware Leadership Project after the NYC Leadership Academy’s (NYCLA) Aspiring Principal Program. According to an independent study conducted by the Institute for Education and Social Policy at New York University, NYCLA has demonstrated the capacity to reverse the decline of low-performing schools and narrow the gaps with higher-performing peer schools in elementary and middle-school English language arts and math.
DLP will utilize a project-based learning curriculum and year-long residency to prepare aspiring principals for the challenges of leading a high-needs school. The 14-month program consists of four phases beginning with a five-week summer intensive, followed by a 10-month school-based residency working side-by-side with a mentor principal. At the end of that school year, a planning summer assists graduates as they transition into school leadership roles. They are supported in their new roles by two years of ongoing coaching. Each aspiring principal will be required to commit to three years of working as a Delaware principal or assistant principal in Delaware’s high-need schools. To learn more about the program visit www.innovativeschools.org/dlp
Members of the press are invited to meet the DLP cohort over lunch on Thursday, June 30 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Eden Support Service Center located at 925 Bear-Corbitt Road, Bear, DE 19701.
The first cohort includes:
Leah Anderson earned a master’s in educational leadership from the University of Delaware as well as a master’s in special education and a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. She holds the following DE Standard Certifications: principal/assistant principal, middle level mathematics (6-8), and exceptional children (K-12). She earned highly qualified designation in secondary mathematics (7-12). Prior to joining the Delaware Leadership Project, she worked at Howard High School of Technology in the New Castle County Vo-Tech School District as an instructor, department chair, new teacher mentor, class advisor and assistant basketball coach. She also served on the instructional leadership team and took on other duties such as extended school year and extra help coordinator. Before relocating to Delaware, she worked with Pittsburgh Public Schools and in the social service sector as a youth and family specialist.
Nakia Fambro, originally from Delaware, earned her bachelor’s in biology education from Delaware State University and master’s in applied technology in education from Wilmington University with a graduate certificate in applied technology in education. Nakia also is a certified SmartBoard trainer. Prior to joining the Delaware Leadership Project, Nakia worked for five years at Caesar Rodney High School in the Caesar Rodney School District as a ninth grade biology teacher.
Dana S. Ferguson
Dana S. Ferguson earned her bachelor’s in secondary education English from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and a master’s in teaching and learning from Wilmington University. Prior to participating in the Delaware Leadership Project, Dana taught high school English for five years and seventh grade language arts for two years. Dana also has helped create meaningful professional development and content-specific workshops for educators at her schools.
Jason Heap earned his bachelor’s in philosophy and religion from Howard Payne University, master’s in divinity from Texas Christian University--Brite Divinity School and master’s in ecclesiastical history from the University of Oxford (UK). He also studied toward a master’s in critical musicology from the University of Leeds (UK) and earned a post-graduate certificate in education from Sheffield Hallam University (UK). He is completing his second year of coursework toward a doctor of education from Walden University with a specialization in administrator leadership for teaching and learning. He is a member of Kappa Delta Pi, the British Philosophical Society and the National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services (UK). Prior to joining the Delaware Leadership Project, he worked in state-maintained schools in the UK in a variety of roles. He also held a senior management head teacher's post in a UK curriculum school in Kuwait and conducted doctoral field research as a director of studies in Nigeria.
Paula Loper (NO PHOTO AVAILABLE)
Paula Loper earned her bachelor’s in elementary education and special education from University of Delaware, and her master’s in school leadership from Wilmington University. Prior to joining the Delaware Leadership Project, Paula worked as a special education teacher in the Christina School District. Paula also worked in the Spartanburg School District 7 in South Carolina at a school for emotionally disturbed and severely handicapped individuals and as a fifth-grade teacher in a general classroom in a charter school in Chicago. Most recently, Paula worked in the Red Clay Consolidated School District as an educational diagnostician.
Erin McNulty earned her bachelor’s in elementary education and master’s in education in applied technology from Wilmington University. Prior to joining the Delaware Leadership Project, Erin taught elementary school for seven years in the Christina and Appoquinimink school districts. Erin has been a first- and fourth-grade teacher in general and inclusive settings. While in the Appoquinimink School District, Erin participated in the Aspiring Administrator Academy.
Reshid Walker earned his bachelor’s in management information systems from King’s College and master’s in information systems from Pace University. He is pursuing his doctorate with a concentration in innovation and educational Leadership from Wilmington University. He holds business/technology, assistant principal/principal, and school leader I licenses. Before joining the Delaware Leadership Project, he worked in the Capital School District in various roles and for three years in the New York City Department of Education. Prior making the career change to education, Reshid was a network engineer for various Fortune 500 companies in New York. He is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., and serves as the web manager and marketing team member at Crossroad Christian Church in Dover.
About Innovative Schools:
Innovative Schools is a non-profit public school support center that empowers educators and communities to adopt modern school models proven to inspire passionate teaching and learning. As a comprehensive Center for School Innovation, the organization provides the strategies, tools, and ongoing support needed to select the right school models and ensure its successful operation. To learn more about Innovative Schools, visit www.innovativeschools.org.
About New York City Leadership Academy:
Established in 2003, the NYC Leadership Academy is an independent nonprofit organization committed to preparing and supporting visionary, passionate educators who lead schools focused on accelerating student learning. The organization believes that effective school leadership practice can level the playing field for students and that effective school leaders meet this critical need by orienting school resources to maximize the promise and potential of every child, especially those whose life opportunities rely on schools the most.
Created in response to New York City’s critical need for high-quality school leaders, especially in hard-to-staff schools, the NYC Leadership Academy now participates in national school improvement efforts and works with state and local districts and their partners to develop customized school leadership initiatives. To learn more about NYC Leadership Academy, visit www.nycleadershipacademy.org.
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street, Suite #2
Dover, Delaware 19901
Phone: (302) 735-4035
Fax: (302) 739-4654
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