Developing innovative programs to better support principals and schools
We’re always asking: What’s next for our school leaders and students? Since 2000, we have piloted efforts with the potential to teach all of us something new about school leadership, student learning and teacher development.
Our pilot programs focus on building capacity in our highest-need schools, harnessing the expertise of Chicago’s top leaders, teaching us about providing strong instruction for our youngest students and preparing the principals of tomorrow.
Program Objective: Improvement
The Executive Principal program is a multi-year mentorship opportunity for Chicago’s top leaders (Executive Principals) and rising stars (Partner Principals) in the second or third year of their principalship. The first three years of the program were a pilot generously funded by the Schwartz-Ward Family Foundation, featuring a 1:1 match between an Executive Principal and a Partner Principal.
Based on demand, we have scaled the Executive Principal program to serve and impact more Partner Principals, growing the cohort from 13 principals in 2020-21 to 24 principals in 2021-22. Like last year, the Executive Principal will provide approximately 300 hours of coaching and mentoring throughout the school year through monthly school visits, one-on-one meetings, and group sessions.
Leaders this year are focusing on a range of topics from advancing student achievement to aligning curriculum. Executive Principals will share their practices with colleagues and measurably grow their skills as leaders and experts in their content areas. We are continuing to explore new ways for principals to expand their leadership, such as a systems-level track that would allow principals to better understand the day-to-day responsibilities of district-level leadership. We will likely pilot lunch-and-learns with district leaders and shadow days in the spring of 2022.
Pipeline and Principal Preparation
Program Objective: Talent
Assistant principals (APs) are not only critical leaders in our schools, but also the primary pipeline of leadership talent into the principal role. As a way to provide assistant principals additional support and resources, CPS, The Fund, and The Chicago Principal Partnership (The Partnership) created APs Rising. This suite serves as a source of targeted development opportunities designed to support current assistant principals who are interested in future principal roles with the district. APs Rising includes the programs listed below.
Leadership Bridge Program | 20 assistant principals
Leadership Bridge supports the leadership development and career growth of assistant principals (APs) so that they are as ready to assume principalship as possible. It aims to ensure that Chicago has a robust, high-quality, and diverse pipeline of school leaders. Currently, in its third year, the program supports 20 assistant principals, 70% of whom are Black or Latinx, compared to the current district average of 63% of CPS principals and 59% of APs who are Black or Latinx. Through on-the-job professional development and individualized coaching sessions from school leadership experts at New Leaders, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Accelerate Institute, APs work in close collaboration with their principals to prepare for their future roles and to develop succession plans for their schools.
Principal Endorsement Program | 13 aspiring principals; 1 principal leader
Together with CPS and university partners, this special PLC supports candidates enrolled in degree programs that award the General Administrative Endorsement, Illinois’ statewide license for school leadership. The program is led by expert principal Tyrese Graham and includes teachers, network staff, and other school support staff who are interested in pursuing school leadership opportunities. Cohort sessions focus on school leadership experiences and networking opportunities with key central office staff, with the aim of elevating the profile of aspiring leaders within the district. We will recruit and welcome a new cohort of aspiring leaders in the spring.
Aspiring Principals Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) | 56 aspiring principals; 5 principal leaders
The Aspiring Principals Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) aim to equip aspiring principals with a deeper understanding of the skills needed to enhance their skills as an AP and provide them support to take on a principal position in the near future, through the mentorship of a current principal. This year is our largest cohort yet, with five experienced CPS principals leading 56 aspiring principals through nine learning sessions to develop their practical knowledge on the principal role. An additional 37 APs are participating in The Fund’s PLCs for principals, which cover a broader range of school leadership topics.