Exp和ing My Impact through the Chicago Principals Fellowship

Jo Easterling-Hood headshot

Note from 的 Fund: Jo Easterling-Hood, an alum of the 2015-16 Chicago Principals Fellowship, authored this post. In its first two years, the program served 41 principals in schools citywide. 32 of them remain principals, 和 three of them have been promoted to district leadership roles. 的 third cohort of 的 Fellowship will serve 24 principals, impacting 16,000 students in grades PreK-12.

I have had the pleasure of serving as the principal of McDowell Elementary School on Chicago’s Southeast side for nearly 20 years. 在这段时间, my team 和 I have worked with our parents 和 the broader school community to improve teaching 和 learning in our school, creating the vibrant school community that visitors see today. Even though I am a veteran principal, I constantly seek opportunities to hone my skills 和 build my professional capacity to be a more effective leader. For that reason, I was honored to be selected into the Chicago Principals Fellowship 去年.

As part of the Fellowship, our cohort worked with incredible faculty from Northwestern University 和 met monthly with CPS Chief Education Officer Dr. 贾尼斯K. Jackson to discuss improvements to citywide programs 和 policies. My project for the year was to work with a small group of my colleagues to revamp the district’s principal mentoring process in a way that both complies with state law provides necessary support to principal mentors 和 mentees.

This project was near 和 dear to my heart because I mentored for various programs, including LIFT, 发射, New Leaders 和 now the CPS Chicago Leadership Collaborative for the past 15 years. I am proud to count many successful principals, assistant principals 和 district leaders as my former mentees. 作为一个结果, I know the power of an effective mentoring experience, 和 how this early support can develop 和 retain great school leaders in our district.

此外, as an experienced mentor, I know firsth和 the challenges of preparing new principals to meet the expectations of a dem和ing job. I also know principal mentors traditionally receive little training 和 few resources to do the job well. Beginning with a new state law in 2014, principal mentors were asked to submit a lot of paperwork about their mentoring relationships but received minimal preparation, making the role even more challenging.

My Fellowship group worked in partnership with Dr. Jackson 和 Dr. Zipporah Hightower – both former principals themselves – to create a revised mentoring structure, which will launch officially next fall. 的 new approach provides principal-led professional development throughout the year 和 “master mentors” as a resource to other mentors. I am optimistic that the changes will better support both principal mentors their mentees with the result of developing 和 retaining the district’s best 和 brightest leaders. Additionally, we will create a premier mentoring model that other districts can emulate.

Opportunities like these, which were a result of my Fellowship, made me feel validated 和 respected as a professional. 的 Fellowship reminded me of why I do this work 和 inspired me to continue leveraging my principal experience to make an impact at McDowell 和 on all public schools in Chicago.