Federal grant funds turnaround program for principals

The largely-urban Paterson Public Schools in New Jersey have partnered with Seton Hall University to launch a turnaround program for principals of underperforming schools. Funded with a $1.5 million federal grant, the Turnaround School Leaders Program will train 45 Paterson Public Schools principals over the course of three years, eventually creating video simulation tools that can be used by other school districts across the country.

The award in Paterson is one of just 12 in the nation that was given by the U.S. Department of Education and will take the best of leadership practices and combine it with technology that can be used for many years to come.

The use of simulation tools may seem cutting-edge for education, but have been implemented successfully in other industries like medicine and the military for years, according to Dale Mann, professor emeritus, Columbia University and managing director, Interactive, Inc., Paterson’s technical partner in creating the simulation.

“By developing this new tool, Paterson is showing other urban districts the benefits of applying high-impact, low-cost simulations to school leadership preparation,” Mann said in a press release on the project.

As educators, we talk a lot about the importance of quality teachers but we also need impactful leaders who are not afraid to take on the issues their schools face head on, and find solutions. This means engaged principals who spend time in classrooms, and alongside teachers, in the process of educating all the children who end up in classrooms. No school is a lost cause, in my opinion. I’ve seen plenty of underperforming schools become competitive once again in their districts — but not without the hard work of teachers, administrators and students. I look forward to following the impact of the Turnaround School Leaders Program and believe it will help many districts like Paterson see a rise in student achievement and success.

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