Partnering to Build Leadership Capacity in Our Schools

May 30, 2018

The Fulcrum Foundation and the Office for Catholic Schools (OCS) are launching a seven-year strategic plan to build leadership capacity. The plan calls for expanded programming, including targeted recruitment of diverse leadership candidates, the development of a principal intern program, the implementation of new principal coaching and mentoring opportunities, and the expansion of existing teacher leadership and aspiring leader programs.

This strategic plan is a product of three years of collaboration between Fulcrum and the OCS.  The leadership work began in 2015 with the Leadership Academy, a cohort based, year-long leadership development program for new and aspiring principals. Courses in managerial, academic, spiritual and strategic leadership are taught by recognized Catholic school leaders and shareholders. Since its inception, six Leadership Academy graduates are now serving as principals in the Archdiocese. Four more will join them next school year. Additionally, Fulcrum offers Educational Leadership grants for aspiring leaders to pursue administrative degrees with six Catholic partner universities. Thirteen aspiring Catholic school leaders will earn their principal certification next year with Fulcrum’s support.

While an increasing number of aspiring leaders are answering the call to serve in Catholic schools, Fulcrum and the OCS believe that leadership begins in the classroom. This past fall, they launched two teacher leadership programs: the GRACE Program (Guiding Regionally, Advancing Catholic Education) for elementary school teachers, and the High School Instructional Leadership Program for high school department chairs. Both programs develop strong instructional leaders who are also outstanding teachers. Many teacher leaders will remain in their classrooms while leading professional learning at their schools, while others will choose to become school administrators. 

This year alone, 160 teacher leaders received 40 hours of training from the OCS and structured support and mentorship from their principals. Teacher leaders led monthly professional learning at their schools and mentored teachers through research-supported teacher coaching practices. 

Michael Cantu, principal of St. Anthony School in Renton, shares: “The GRACE program has unquestionably raised the bar by engaging teachers and empowering their voices in the school improvement process.  It has been very gratifying to witness the professional growth and excitement in our teacher leaders.  Our school is a better school because of the GRACE program.  I am highly supportive of this collective approach because I have witnessed first-hand how it moves us forward in the development of excellence in our school program.” 
The OCS and Fulcrum feel that they are only just beginning, and are eager to implement the new programs outlined in the 7-year plan. “We are building leadership capacity by investing in, forming and retaining high quality teacher leaders and principals committed to serving Catholic schools,” says Kelly Surapaneni, Coordinator of Leadership Development at Fulcrum.