Leading the Way

Aspiring Princ2Oakland Schools works to build strong district leaders

Oakland Schools is often thought of as a leader in many ways, not just locally, but statewide as well.

So it makes perfect sense Oakland Schools would be involved in the business of creating leaders.

Hired in 2005 in the District and School Services Department specifically to create leadership programs, Marty Chaffee acts as Oakland Schools’ leadership consultant for building administrators in Oakland Schools’ Leadership and School Improvement Unit. He soon started the Aspiring Principals’ Leadership Academy and New Principals’ Leadership Institute.

Chaffee said both programs work with school districts to create local leaders. In the Aspiring Principals’ Leadership Academy, teachers who have an interest in moving to an administrative level learn about leadership through a variety of methods such as engaging in 36 hours of professional development, attending 18 hours of cohort meetings with presentations from current local school district leaders and conducting 65-100 internship hours by spending time with a current, local administrator.

“They really enjoy it and there’s a learning experience in it for them too,” said Chaffee. “It’s also about helping them decide what they would like to do. Some come into the academy knowing they want to be an administrator. Through the experience, some decide they are ready for the challenge of leadership.  And some of them decide they don’t want to be an administrator right now. No matter what they all leave with a greater understanding of how they can lead.”

Aspiring Princ

Since its inception, the academy has had 360 teacher-leaders participate, 28 Oakland County districts and 13 charter, private and other county districts represented, 280 Oakland County school leaders have served as mentors and 133 new administrators have been hired as a result of the program.

The New Principals’ Leadership Institute is for those who have been in their administrative role three years or less and want to fine tune their leadership skills.

“Being a principal is just like a teacher as so much of what you learn is on-the-job training. But unlike a teacher, it’s a lonely job,” said Chaffee. “We provide that just-in-time support and collegiality.”

The institute helps administrators understand their leadership vision and core values. In addition, it supports them in how to sustain, maintain and shape a building culture. Participants also learn how to lead system and individual change and they create a camaraderie with other new leaders that lasts for years.

John Lucido, assistant superintendent of administrative services for Clarkston Community Schools, routinely sends staff to Oakland Schools’ leadership academy. He said it’s considered an honor to attend.

“I think the staff get a lot of good education and excellent networking. They get paired up with a mentor outside of their district. I think it’s just the kind of leadership training for teachers they probably don’t get through education or, if they are in the classroom, don’t have time to gain that experience,” said Lucido.

Lucido added if a leadership position candidate has on his/her resume that he/she attended one of Chaffee’s programs, it’s definitely considered a positive.Aspiring Princ1

“All the educational programs coming out of Oakland Schools are top notch and we like to partner with them on any opportunities they have for career advancement,” he said.

Chaffee said he started studying leadership more in depth after he was hired as a principal in Clarkston.

“I love leadership and I love to grow leaders and I love to help people grow people to become leaders,” said Chaffee.

For more information on either program, contact Chaffe at 248.209.2118 or Martin.Chaffee@oakland.k12.mi.us.

Sarah Davis is the communications specialist for Oakland Schools. 

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