JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County Public Schools is part of a growing trend that takes some administrators out of the office and into the classrooms. Assistant principals are being trained to incorporate more leadership into their role,s as well as some teaching abilities.
Dr. Tracy Anderson is their teacher in Duval County's first year in the New Leaders' Emerging Leaders Program.
"I also kind of go in and coach those aspiring principals to make sure they have some tools in their tool kit to help them be successful," said Anderson.
Overseeing assignments and group discussions, Anderson is a facilitator for the program. It's training assistant principals with leadership methods to incorporate into their roles and schools. The application process is difficult. With a goal of 35, 29 assistant principals were selected in Duval County.
"They may not have a whole lot of strategies in the beginning of the year, on how to have a difficult conversation, but in the end they will have a wealth of knowledge that they can actually take into their schools and make sure they are turning around schools and actually growing children," said Anderson.
In addition to the daily responsibilities, they have homework. They are required to complete online assignments, work with a team of teachers on setting and meeting goals, then film what they do for critiques. It is a lot of work, but they are okay with that.
"I think that especially in education as things change so drastically and constantly that you have to be a lifelong learner and the moment you are complacent in what you're doing and what you think you know is the time that I think you need to go into another learning environment to try and better your practice," said Caleb Gottberg, the assistant principal at Lake Shore Middle School.
He is part of the program and he says it isn't easy, but they are determined to succeed and it's not only transforming themselves and the teachers into better leaders, but the students.
"And as they see professionals work together, the students I believe will rise up to the occasion because they see that we have a passion for their success," said Gottberg.
According to the New Leaders website: www.newleaders.org, 70 percent of participants led student improvements in their classrooms in the first two years of the program.
Anderson said their goal for next year is to have 40 Duval County schools participate in the program.