Partnering for Education Leaders

By: Anne-Margaret Swary

A new partnership with Toledo Public Schools (TPS) is yielding great results in the College of Education and Human Development’s efforts to help create educational leaders who can have a positive impact in local school districts where their efforts are needed most.

In 2015, BGSU was selected to partner with TPS on the Urban Leadership Development Program that helps recruit existing teachers who are good candidates for leadership positions in the district. TPS provides tuition assistance to these teachers and acting administrators to complete the graduate program in educational leadership, earning either a master’s or specialist degree.

The first cohort graduated in August, creating a strong pool of candidates who are now ready to step into leadership roles in their schools and throughout the district.

The program is symbiotic for both BGSU and TPS. The university is able to build on valuable existing community partnerships and learn from the experiences of the students in the program. In addition to grant-funded tuition assistance from the district, the cohort of TPS educators benefit from having courses held in their facilities rather than having to travel to Bowling Green to take classes.

“We’re very pleased with the Bowling Green partnership,” said Bob Clark, a retired TPS assistant superintendent who coordinates the leadership program for the district. “The professors have been outstanding. They try to anticipate our needs.”

Cohort student Margaret Damschroder, assistant principal at Harvard Elementary, praised the knowledge and expertise of the professors, which proved to be “relevant and propitious” as she navigated through her first two years as an administrator.

“The TPS and BGSU partnership throughout the program was most complementary in that both stakeholders were focused on the success of each member of cohort,” she added.

The courses also offer added value in that they provide a forum to discuss the unique challenges faced by urban school districts such as TPS, and students can consider and debate real-world issues that arise in their schools.

“Once nice thing about having a cohort is that it opens up the dialogue,” Clark said. “They are free to discuss things with the professors that occur in their daily working. Since many of them are in acting leadership positions already, it adds more depth and value to what they are learning.”

Because the students in the cohort come from such a variety of educational backgrounds with various years of experience in many different subjects, it further adds to the richness of the cohort experience, noted Dr. Patrick Pauken, director of the School of Educational Foundations, Leadership and Policy.

He said the program also tries to bring guest speakers from within the district to present on relevant topics.  

“It allows the students to build relationships with other key people who work in or with the district that they’ve probably never met before,” he said. “It’s good for the individual and the school district.”