$366,000 investment funds Longwood-led program designed to strengthen struggling schools
An innovative new program designed to build teams of leaders in struggling school districts across the state launched in February at Longwood.
One hundred K-12 teachers and administrators from Portsmouth to Martinsville gathered in the Hull Auditorium early on a Saturday morning for the first session in a day full of tried-and-true lessons on leadership and lesson planning.
“This is strengths-based coaching, which means we’ll
be looking at the positive things the schools and teachers are
already doing and building off that.’
— DR. NANCY RIDDELL, PROFESSOR OF EDUCATION
Longwood is partnering with the Virginia Department of Education on the new Teacher Leadership Program, which trains teams from low-performing school districts in leadership skills—a process in which schools can build a culture of high performance from within their own faculty.
VDOE awarded Longwood $366,000 to create and implement the program. Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton, who has called for greater innovation and investment in teaching practices and development, spearheaded the initiative.
“This is strengths-based coaching, which means we’ll be looking at the positive things the schools and teachers are already doing and building off that,” said Dr. Nancy Riddell, professor of education and director of the Teacher Leadership Program. “We are really training the team to be a team of leaders in their own communities. That’s what citizen leadership is about.”
Twenty schools sent teams of teachers to Longwood for the initial group session. In subsequent weeks, Longwood faculty members will visit the teams in their own schools to observe and lead workshops packed with strategies that have been refined over time. After numerous on-site visits and two more group sessions, the teams will return to their schools—which are in the Lynchburg, Newport News, Martinsville, Norfolk, Petersburg, Richmond and Portsmouth districts— equipped with the tools to help raise standards across the board.
“Creating a team of people in each school who can drive positive change and function as a resource for other teachers is the way to change a school’s culture and trajectory,” said Dr. Gerry Sokol, professor of education and co-director of the program.