At the turn of the 21st century, the South Carolina Department of Education found itself facing a dilemma. Personnel statistics showed nearly half the state’s principals would be eligible to retire within just 5 years. That meant the department soon would face an unprecedented demand for new school leaders who could perform at the top of their game across the system, which serves 701,749 students in 1,100 public schools in 85 school districts.
State executives turned to the Center for Creative Leadership’s Education and Nonprofit Sector to help them address the looming challenge. Together they created a 2-year School Leadership Executive Institute (SLEI) that has trained hundreds of K-12 principals and school superintendents since its inception in 2000.
The Institute is now a yearlong program that delivers a powerful, 3-pronged curriculum: leadership training from CCL, instructional excellence training from the Department of Education, and management skills training from the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business. Quarterly, 3-day sessions bring together between 25 and 30 principals and superintendents from diverse backgrounds, schools and school districts.
As a result of the Institute’s work, South Carolina has a new cadre of leaders creating a student-centered environment and improving outcomes in schools across the state.
Surveys show program graduates are putting lessons learned into practice. They are taking an entrepreneurial approach to their work and promoting collaboration and consensus-building. They are strong problem solvers, navigate systems effectively, and know how to create a culture of ethics. They communicate their own excitement about learning and focus attention on student achievement.
In fact, the program is developing the level of public school leadership that research demonstrates is linked to student achievement. Importantly, the gains in leadership effectiveness seem unrelated to years of service. So early-career principals and superintendents are performing at the same level as those with far more experience, helping the Department of Education maintain high competency levels as senior educators retire.
Follow-up studies at 2 elementary schools led by SLEI graduates confirm the positive — and tangible — impact of the program. Students are performing at higher levels, discipline problems have plummeted, and teachers are far more satisfied in their work. Strong, effective leadership is helping principals achieve results that matter.
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CCL’s Youth Leadership solutions provide education leadership for the classroom, the school, and the community. Whether you are an organization seeking to improve education in your community, or a principal eager to participate in research-driven educational leadership training, we have a program to meet your needs.Download Article