When Innovative Thinking and a Sense of Urgency Impact Educational Leadership Programs

Excluding the role of family and community, we know after teachers, the most influential players on student achievement are principals. With that in mind, last summer a group of ten local, regional and national experts and practitioners on educational leadership preparation joined together to create an innovative SUNY Plattsburgh at Queensbury Educational Leadership Program which reflected the latest research on instructional leadership and the New York State’s Regents Reform Agenda. We drew upon the Educational Leadership Policy Standards: ISLLC 2008, Teacher Education Accreditation Council Principles and Standards, and National Educational Technology Standards, and we sought out best practices and tools from the Wallace Foundation School Leadership Studies, Southern Regional Education Board, Quality Measures Principal Program Assessment, and New Leaders.

Our sense of urgency was driven by a clarion call for school reform sweeping across New York State and much of the nation. A growing body of research on the pivotal role of instructional leadership and the increased rigor and accountability expectations for students and educators alike was a leveraged moment to rethink and act on how we do educational leader preparation at SUNY Plattsburgh. We knew there were exemplary educational leadership programs scattered across the country, and we wanted to replicate as best we could some of the more successful program elements. Our committee also sought to ensure the region that we were creating a rigorous program which would best serve their students and staff.

With resources in hand, we surveyed regional school and district leaders on their perceptions and needs regarding educational leadership and then broke out into teams to create clinically rich cornerstone projects that promoted rigor, relevance, and relationships. Our projects include 1) Assessment of Teaching and Learning Using Student Data (ie. Data Driven Instruction), 2) The Annual Professional Performance Review which includes Evidence Based Observations, Student Learning Objectives (SLOs), and Evidence Binders, 3) Professional Development Curriculum Project which address the Common Core Learning Standards and Instructional Shifts, and 4) Peer and Self Assessment of Leadership. We also added a Digital Portfolio, Rigorous Internship, Site Mentor, Application of Instructional Leadership Standards to Practice Seminar Series, and Internship Coordinator.

Beginning this fall, SUNY Plattsburgh at Queensbury will begin offering three Educational Leadership Programs: A 12-credit Teacher Leadership Graduate Certificate, a 30-credit School Building Leader Certificate of Advanced Study, and an 8-credit School District Leader Graduate Certificate. Under the guidance of co-directors Dr. Michael Johnson and Dr. Harry Brooks and our strong faculty, we believe our candidates will have a truly exceptional, clinically rich experience grounded in educational leadership research, the ISLLC Standards, and the New York State Regents Reform Agenda. We firmly believe we are preparing the next generation of leaders with the necessary skills and understandings to transform how we prepare students for lifelong success. It’s been a good year, and in the words of Margaret Mead,  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”


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