initiative brings Kellogg management insights to Chicago's
aspiring public school principals, shaping education reform
through leadership skills
Faye Terrell-Perkins' role as an elementary school
principal in Civil Rights Era Chicago, she drove to work past
burning flags and deteriorating neighborhoods that were rioting
in the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King
grew so angry with what I saw," recalls the senior executive
director of Chicago Leadership Academies for Supporting Success
(CLASS), a professional development program that enhances
the skills of school leaders, ranging from aspiring to veteran
principals, with a portfolio of training initiatives. "What
schools looked like aesthetically and the overall decline
of community pride really strengthened my resolve to make
Terrell-Perkins is still relentless in advancing public school
equity and reform. With a graduate degree from Governors State
University among her credentials, she is also the executive
director of CLASS' Leadership Academy and Urban Network
for Chicago (LAUNCH), founded in 1998 as a collaboration
among the Chicago Public School (CPS) system, the Chicago
Principals and Administrators Association and Northwestern
University. With support from foundations and grants, LAUNCH
provides resources that help identify, train and support aspiring
Kellogg School of Management is an invaluable knowledge resource
for the program, Terrell-Perkins says, as Kellogg faculty
are bolstering LAUNCH's clientele with effective management
strategies and educational best practices for their schools.
To date, 125 LAUNCH fellows have served as CPS principals
since completing the program.
Thompson brings her negotiations and leadership insights
to the LAUNCH classroom.
tools for the trade
part of LAUNCH's Summer Leadership Academy, Kellogg School
faculty, including Brenda
Ellington-Booth and Leigh
Thompson, teach negotiations, conflict resolution and
director of executive programs and clinical assistant professor
of management and organizations, says a central lesson the
Kellogg professors present is that "good communication
goes a long way."
change is essential for principals, as the majority of them
are in schools that are constantly changing," she says.
"[Principals] need to understand how to make strategic
changes in their organizations work successfully, since their
actions ultimately will impact hundreds of students,"
she says, adding that her teaching provides fellows with an
awareness of how their words and actions shape the organization.
the role of school principal calls for strong communication
and different management styles for different tasks, as principals
typically manage several areas of the school's operation simultaneously.
Overseeing multiple staff teams, working with outside contractors,
monitoring the physical school property and dealing with government
officials calls for management muscle.
traditional curricula for education leaders focus on research
and development for effective instruction, not on leadership
and management skills vital for principals, according to Joan
Dameron-Crisler, LAUNCH's managing director.
need for good leadership is universal and crosses all professional
boundaries," Dameron-Crisler notes. "It is critical
for principals to be able to identify talent and potential
on their staffs and build successful teams to support them
in their work, because it is virtually impossible for any
principal to succeed without a commitment to shared leadership
and decision making."
management strategies, she says, are tools that enable principals
to delegate and invite others — parents, teachers or
other staff — to assume leadership roles and provide
substantive support in achieving the school's goals. For example,
principals benefit by delegating certain management tasks
and sharing responsibility for planning, logistics, scheduling,
facilitation and monitoring of specialty programs, such as
advanced math or reading initiatives for gifted students,
with highly qualified content area specialists, instead of
taking on the entire task themselves.
addition to team building, the pitfalls of group-think are
taught by Thompson, the J. Jay Gerber Distinguished Professor
of Dispute Resolution and Organizations. Ellington-Booth's
teachings focus on communication and leading change. The latter
is a particularly daunting task for principals who often meet
resistance, she says.
change occurs frequently in schools, many teachers have become
skeptical about such efforts and believe that most change
is "the flavor of the month," says Ellington-Booth.
"When a new principal comes on board, he or she needs
strategies to get past this skepticism and create excitement,
momentum or hope in initiatives."
that end, Ellington-Booth provides fellows with proven strategies
to help them understand why people are resistant to change
and how leaders can overcome this hurdle. She also presents
methods for new leaders to establish credibility.
input from Penelope Peterson, dean of Northwestern
University's School of Education and Social Policy, the LAUNCH
curriculum addresses recurring situations that principals
face. Also a part of the Summer Leadership Academy, fellows
work alongside current mentor principals. It's a rigorous
development period, and the Kellogg component is highly regarded
by the participants, says LAUNCH co-founder, Martin J.
Koldyke, who is retired chairman of Frontenac Company,
a Chicago venture capital firm he created in 1971.
after year the principal trainees all say that the most compelling
parts of the program are the exposure to Kellogg faculty,"
says Koldyke. "In my view, the faculty is key to the
success of the LAUNCH program."
agrees that the enthusiasm of LAUNCH fellows is evident —
a factor that makes teaching them a joy, she says.
are engaged, passionate and supportive of one another, and
are very effective in making the management-to-school connections,"
Thompson says. "They are actively mastering their own
development as the leaders of public schools."
provides an example of a peer coaching and mentoring method:
"Teachers observe their colleagues and give feedback.
The principal in the peer coaching/modeling process has to
remain separate, so the teachers know it is not administrator-influenced."
This strategy has resulted in beneficial instruction changes
and heightened trust among colleagues, she says.
foster the fellows' personal connections with management strategies,
Kellogg faculty maintains a reflective learning environment.
fellows write in journals every day for about 45 minutes,
reflecting on the sessions we teach," Thompson says.
"It is amazing the way they drink in the knowledge."
Dunbar, a former LAUNCH fellow, now principal at Chicago's
Nash Elementary School, testifies to the program's benefits. "At Kellogg I learned how to practice
shared leadership," she says. "Now I'm building
teams effectively, through collaboration around issues. I
perform needs analyses and place individuals in groups based
on their interests."
that level of willingness, and the knowledge gained through
their studies with Kellogg faculty, LAUNCH fellows are better
prepared to motivate parents, staff and community members
to participate in their children's academic experience, says
Terrell-Perkins, who believes that parental involvement is
a result of a school leader who inspires it.
addition, effective leadership combined with passion, says
Thompson, can benefit not only principals but also leaders
in other industries.
bring all their heart and soul to the learning, and that love
for their colleagues creates a powerful environment that I
wish many other companies and organizations could experience,"
says the Kellogg professor.
LAUNCH continues to effect institutional change for reform
that proves vital not only for today's young learners and
their families, but for the communities where those children
will someday emerge as productive adults.
and creating schools that are places of excellence for all
children will impact not only those children," Terrell-Perkins
says. "It will impact your community and city with, far-reaching