September 22, 2017 Fund Program

Principal Perspective: The Power of Collaboration

Note from The Fund team: As we kick off new cohorts of Principal Fellowships, Professional Learning Communities and our Educator Advisory Committee, we asked Jessa Reisner, Principal of Tarkington School of Excellence, to share her experience with two of these programs in this week’s blog post.


As a principal, I like to spend as much time as possible in my school – with my students, teachers and staff. I want to be there to coach, support, encourage and problem-solve as needed. But, my experiences over the course of the 2016-17 school year opened my eyes to how incredibly valuable it can be to take time outside of my school to make it an even better place.

Through the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), I have monthly opportunities to connect with principals from our network. Our collaboration increases my effectiveness as a principal, and my experience within AUSL attracted me to two of The Funds’ leadership development opportunities: its Educator Advisory Committee (EAC), as well as one of its Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). I participated in both last year, looking for a chance to connect with a diverse group of principals; my experience could not have been truer to that goal.

Over the course of the year, I met and worked with principals who were at different points in their careers, who were serving in different school types and who were representing various neighborhoods. My peers offered fresh perspectives from a myriad of vantage points – providing invaluable opinions and insights on topics that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Sparking new relationships was one common denominator of the two complementary experiences. While the EAC introduced me to design thinking at a high-level, my PLC got into the nitty-gritty details of revamping my school’s staffing strategy. Both provoked creative thinking and new ideas.

My advice for other principals considering these programs? Go for it.

Both are worth your commitment. Both are worth the time away from your school. Yes, you’ll be pushed outside your comfort zone, challenged to think out of the box – but, you’ll have the support of other principals in the same shoes by your side. And, once the programs end, as mine now have, you can look forward to continuing those new relationships and strengthening the greater community of school leaders across Chicago.