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  Network ConnectVolume 4, Issue 1

School Leaders Network Newsletter

Winter 2010  

What Principals Desperately Need


School leadership across the nation is a hot topic! Research has clearly proven that principals are second only to teachers in the impact they can have on a student's academic success. School leaders set the culture and climate of the school, create the belief that all students are capable of succeeding and the urgency to act in accordance with that belief. A school can have some great teachers but only a school leader can assure every school has ALL great teachers. Principals can increase teacher efficacy across the entire system for all children.


And yet, when we hear about the dire straights states and most school districts are heading for now or in the coming years, we frequently hear that one of the first items to be cut is the so called "professional development" budget for school leaders. This cut has far reaching implications. At best, now, most school leaders have access to some fine national conferences and hopefully a superintendent who has the time and knowledge to support leaders with technical learning.

However, school leaders have never really had any opportunity to take the preparational learning they have experienced and turn it into opportunities for adaptive decision making. They are rarely exposed to a forum where they can learn collaboratively in a problem-solving, inquiry-based way, to be able to accountably create the transformational changes needed in their schools.
Principals desperately need opportunities to turn content into action, to deeply understand instructional challenges, and to learn, and then embed, best practices in their schools.
I would like to encourage all readers to think deeply about how critical the right kind of professional development is for school leaders. On their backs are balanced the future of all students they serve in their schools. Accountability is intense and yet the corresponding development leaders need is not there for them. The US has some excellent principal preparation programs and yet, once finished, and maybe even coached the first year, school leaders in most of our schools are left with the thinking they are "done, cooked" and ready to proceed with all the right answers. It is just not so, and as a result, nationally we are now seeing so many early retirements, so many cases of burnout, and so many possibly highly talented educators saying "no thanks" to the job of school leader.

It is in every child's best interest to change the national conversation about what school principals need to be, and stay, effective, motivated, and successful leaders for our childrens' futures.
Not only should professional development support be maintained in all districts across the country, but it should be enhanced and scaled up to assure it is provocative, growth producing, accountable, skill-based learning focused on data and action research.
Please do your part in your communities! Speak out for this kind of learning and support for today's school leaders. Take steps to change the national and local conversations about how we can commit, as a nation, to developing skilled leaders to assure every student's success for the future.


Elizabeth Neale
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
School Leaders Network

SLN News Brief

SLN Program Model 2.0, incorporating the latest research and standards, was rolled out at the beginning of the 2010-11 SY. For SLN members, what 2.0 demands is more intentionally rigorous learning, meaningful critique of practice, and collective responsibility to improve leadership for the purpose of enhancing student learning. There is more about SLN 2.0 in the article below.  


Our year end fundraising push included a successful on line appeal to the entire SLN community and we are very pleased and proud to report that we have received the following gifts totalling $530,000: 

  • The Booth Ferris Foundation, $200,000, to support strategic growth in NYC
  • The Boeing Company, $50,000, to launch networks in LA
  • MetLife Foundation, $250,000, for program development and tools and to support expansion into LA 
  • W.L.S. Spencer Foundation, $30,000, to launch networks in LA

Read more about our recent gifts. 


John Jenkins, Ed.D. has joined SLN as Regional Program Director for NYC; you can read more about John in the article below. He has launched three new networks there, helping to build out that geograhpic cluster.


SLN opened new networks in other existing clusters, San Antonio (2), Washington DC (1) and Hawaii (1) and moved into new areas with the opening of networks in San Francisco (1) and Los Angeles (1). The San Francisco and Los Angeles networks will pilot test the SLN program fused with EPIC resources. EPIC is a New Leaders for New Schools resource of short video clips, case studies, and artifacts of principal practice that serve as a launching point for discussions and leadership analysis.  

SLN Program Model 2.0

The SLN Program Model emerges from intersections between the National Standards for School Leaders, from the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC), and current research on principal effect on student achievement. The ISLLC standards were generated by state representatives and professional associations; supported by The Pew Charitable Trust and The Wallace Foundation.

Research used to anchor the program design was gleaned from sixteen studies found most frequently referenced in effective principal leadership literature and compared against findings with two meta-analyses   (Leithwood et al., 2004; J. T. Waters et al., 2003).

Program design was then updated with the most comprehensive study to date published in 2010 by The Wallace Foundation, "Learning from Leadership: Investigating the Links to Improved Student Achievement". As a result of this work, the SLN program attends to three core principles. 
  1. Effective principals foster healthy school cultures characterized by the shared commitment of all school members to be responsive to change efforts and achievement-oriented.
  2. Principals influence teaching and learning through the efforts of leadership teams, teacher collaboration, teacher professional development, and coaching and monitoring teacher performance.
  3. Principals lead with mission and vision designed to attend to strategic growth targets and partnered with regular assessment to measure progress.

To read more about SLN's program model please visit our website.

John Jenkins Joins SLN as NYC Regional Program Director

With a $200,000 gift from The Booth Ferris Foundation, SLN's growth strategy of focusing on cluster geographies took a step forward with naming John Jenkins, Ed.D., Regional Program Director for New York City. 
Dr. Jenkins has devoted the past 20 years to developing and sharing his passion for urban education as a Teacher, Facilitator and Administrator in the New York Public Schools. Prioring to joining SLN, he most recently served as the Instructional Program Manager for the Diploma Plus New York City Network of schools where he provided coaching and support to principals and school leadership teams in implementing the Diploma Plus instructional model. Read Dr. Jenkins' full bio.

John assumed the leadership role for SLN's existing Networks in NYC and since joining SLN, John has held mulitple information sessions, spreading the word about SLN and our track record in NYC with the goal of expanding our impact there. In January, he launched three additional new SLN Networks in NYC!  

Contact Information
Elizabeth Neale, CEO and Founder
School Leaders Network
1100 East Washington Road
Hinsdale, Massachusetts 01235

In This Issue
SLN News in Brief
SLN Program Model 2.0
New Regional Program Director
Contact Information

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that all children deserve teachers and schools that effectively prepare them with college and career ready skills.


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