Urban School Leadership Program Awarded NYS Department of Education Grant

Funding Supports Program in Creating Strong Leaders Committed to School Improvement
A new educational opportunity for Rochester City School District (RCSD) teachers who want to become urban school leaders has earned a three-year grant from the New York State Department of Education.
The $749,985 in funding to the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester will support the Clinically Rich Urban School Leadership Program and its unique approach to professional development and field experiences for a select number of city teachers. Central features of the program are enhanced coursework integrating field-based assignments; a full-time clinical experience, which gives teachers release time to intern with current RCSD administrators during the school year; and other ongoing mentoring and professional development opportunities.
Mary Rapp“Urban schools across the country face the challenge of raising student achievement to higher levels,” said Mary Rapp, who directs the K-12 school leadership preparation program at the Warner School.  “The innovative design of this program creates a new pipeline for successful Rochester city school teachers to prepare for future school leadership positions within the District. The New York State Department of Education grant not only supports teachers, who share a common goal to improve schools, as they strive to advance in their careers, but it will also give them opportunities to assist with important, timely school improvement efforts along the way.”
The Warner School launched the urban school leadership program last year in partnership with the Rochester school district and the College of Arts, Sciences & Engineering at the University of Rochester. The 27-credit Advanced Certificate, leading to New York State Certification in School Building and District Leadership, allows teachers in the RCSD to earn a K-12 administrative certification over two years, part-time, while holding a full-time teaching position.
When Khieta Davis, a program participant, first entered the teaching profession, she said it was hard to “see the forest for the trees,”as the adage goes. "In the busyness of the school day, I was often oblivious to the larger context; I worked diligently to engage my students and their families and collaborated with my colleagues to implement mandated programs with fidelity,” said Davis, whose lasting professional goal is to increase students’ life chances. “I was intrigued by the Clinically Rich Urban School Leadership Program because it would increase my ability to ‘see the forest’ — to gain a system level view of the students and community that we serve.”
Presently an elementary social studies lead teacher at Central Office, she believes the program has instilled in her a vision for transformation and is equipping her with the skill set to be an agent of change in a larger context. “I am gaining acuity in my ability to analyze the current state of urban education and to envision opportunities to implement change that will revive, replenish, renew, and refurbish our system,” she added. “It is my hope to become a servant leader who inspires, challenges, and affirms students, teachers, administrators, and community members; the program is cultivating that dream.”
Davis and others agree that teachers do not become leaders on their own.
“The value of the mentoring program at this stage in teachers’ careers is key,” said Susan M. Hasenauer-Curtis, RCSD's executive director of school innovation who serves as a mentor to teachers participating in the program. “They already have experience and understand the intricacies of teaching and leadership and they have a level of maturity and accomplishment—that in itself leads to a higher level of success. They are dedicated and want to learn and grow in the climate in which they work. The prospect for their future in the District is greatly enhanced due to this program.”
Full-time clinical internships and other experiential activities, along with sustained mentoring, are seen as critical to preparing aspiring school leaders, research shows. The Clinically Rich Urban School Leadership Program is designed to foster the development of effective urban school leaders who have the knowledge, tools, and experiences necessary to create and sustain positive school change that results in improved student learning.
Several aspects of the program have earned accolades from participating teachers. Samantha Brody, a veteran special education teacher who has spent most of her career at School Without Walls, feels invigorated by her studies and inspired by the achievements and qualifications of the RCSD administrators and Warner School faculty involved with the program. “Our professors come to us with an array of experiences and an incredible wealth of knowledge,”she said. “For example, some of our professors are current principals, acting superintendents, former superintendents, and others who hold various leadership roles in local districts.”
The program also has reinforced Brody’s need, she said, to advocate for social justice through the practice of exceptional leadership. “It’s incredibly exciting to know that I have the ability to inspire lives and the opportunity to make a positive impact on students, families, and educators,” Brody said.
In May 2012, the inaugural cohort of 12 teachers launched the program. The group of peers continues to work together and interact regularly. A new cohort of 12 teachers will begin September 2014.
The Department of Education grant, part of the state's Teacher/Leader Quality Partnership, will cover 35 percent of the tuition costs for teachers, and the Warner School will cover another 20 percent, making the program more affordable for the most qualified RCSD teachers.
For more information about the Clinically Rich Urban School Leadership Program, contact Warner School admissions.
About the Warner School of Education
Founded in 1958, the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education offers master’s and doctoral degree programs in teaching and curriculum, school leadership, higher education, educational policy, counseling, human development, and health professions education. The Warner School of Education offers a new accelerated option for its EdD programs that allows eligible students to earn a doctorate in education in as few as three years part time while holding a professional job in the same field. The Warner School of Education is recognized both regionally and nationally for its tradition of preparing practitioners and researchers to become leaders and agents of change in schools, universities, and community agencies; generating and disseminating research; and actively participating in education reform. 
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Media Contact: Theresa Danylak
(585) 275-0777; (585) 278-6273 (cell)

Tags: Admissions, Clinically Rich Urban School Leadership Program, educational leadership, K-12 school leadership, Mary Rapp, school district leadership