Grant to boost leadership in Hamilton County Schools

Grant to boost leadership in Hamilton County Schools

August 30th, 2012 by Kevin Hardy in Local Regional News

The entrance to the offices of the Hamilton County Department of Education is seen in this photo taken on April 7, 2009.

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

A $100,000 grant will help Hamilton County Schools create a new leadership development program that's intended to build a steady pipeline of well-trained teachers and principals.

The local McKenzie Foundation gave $117,000 to the Public Education Foundation, which will work with school and community leaders over the next six months to plan the new program.

The gift is the first publicly announced investment in PEF's new five-year strategic plan, which calls for focusing on four areas of work, one of which is leadership development.

The strategic plan, unveiled this month, also calls for focusing on effective teaching, preparing students for success and informing the public about what does and doesn't work in school reform.

The new leadership pipeline will target development among teachers, principals and other leaders in Hamilton County Schools with the goal of ensuring employees are receiving leadership training throughout their careers, said McKenzie Foundation Executive Director Johnny Smith.

"Eventually, by the time that somebody is eligible to be promoted to a leadership position, they're going to have the skill set to make them effective," he said.

Smith said his foundation has given about $250,000 to PEF in recent years, but those gifts were made privately. The importance of the new program convinced the group to go public with the gift, he said.

"One of the reasons we've decided to let it be known now is that we want the public to know that they have our support," Smith said.

Bill Kennedy, director of PEF's Principal Leadership Academy, said the group currently has limited opportunities for leadership training. The academy helps train aspiring principals, while the PEF's Leadership Fellows program works with teacher leaders.

"This gives us the opportunity for a more comprehensive continuum of leadership training," he said.

While the details haven't been finalized, Kennedy said the new leadership program is envisioned as a long-term strategy for developing leadership support and training at all levels of school and district leadership.

"Ultimately we know that any successful school has successful leaders," he said.