Leadership Program Supports New York City’s Community Schools Initiative

Posted December 13, 2016
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog leadershipprogramsupportsnycocs 2016

New York City’s Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion (DOE) and the Casey Foun­da­tion have joined forces to improve out­comes for stu­dents and fam­i­lies by offer­ing an inten­sive lead­er­ship devel­op­ment pro­gram to the staff of the DOE’s Office of Com­mu­ni­ty Schools (OCS). The eight-month pro­gram — based on Casey’s sig­na­ture results-based lead­er­ship devel­op­ment approach — is designed to give lead­ers and staff mem­bers the skills and com­pe­ten­cies they need to engage in col­lab­o­ra­tive deci­sion mak­ing, advo­cate for evi­dence-based strate­gies and build the long-term capac­i­ty of com­mu­ni­ties across the city to help ensure stu­dents suc­ceed in and out of school. 

Ash­ley B. Stew­art, a senior asso­ciate on the Foundation’s lead­er­ship devel­op­ment team, says the col­lab­o­ra­tion has the poten­tial to affect the work of hun­dreds of schools and more than 50,000 students.

The Office of Com­mu­ni­ty Schools, cre­at­ed in Feb­ru­ary 2015, reflects the city’s com­mit­ment to pro­vide equi­ty and excel­lence for all stu­dents. OCS pro­vides stu­dents with the social, emo­tion­al, phys­i­cal and aca­d­e­m­ic sup­port nec­es­sary to suc­ceed on their jour­ney inside and out­side of the class­room. Its mis­sion is to estab­lish 130 com­mu­ni­ty schools that offer a coor­di­nat­ed approach to improve stu­dents’ aca­d­e­m­ic per­for­mance by build­ing part­ner­ships among prin­ci­pals, par­ents, teach­ers and com­mu­ni­ty-based organizations. 

We are com­mit­ted to build­ing strong part­ner­ships and imple­ment­ing a cross-sec­tor strat­e­gy across the DOE’s Com­mu­ni­ty Schools that aligns the resources and tal­ents of prin­ci­pals, teach­ers, par­ents and com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions so that stu­dents grad­u­ate pre­pared for suc­cess in col­lege and in life,” said Christo­pher Caru­so, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Office of Com­mu­ni­ty Schools and a mem­ber of the 20102011 class of the Casey Chil­dren and Fam­i­ly Fel­low­ship. Pro­vid­ing effec­tive sup­port to schools and com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tion part­ners so that they can align their work around a com­mon set of results requires adap­tive lead­er­ship skills from the Office of Com­mu­ni­ty Schools. The Casey Foundation’s lead­er­ship approach is high­ly effec­tive and we are grate­ful for their col­lab­o­ra­tion and support.”

Par­tic­i­pants in the lead­er­ship pro­gram will ben­e­fit from six in-depth sem­i­nars facil­i­tat­ed by fac­ul­ty who are expe­ri­enced in results-based lead­er­ship devel­op­ment. They will learn how to use tar­gets and per­for­mance mea­sures to guide their work; prac­tice Results-Based Facil­i­ta­tion to sharp­en their abil­i­ty to build effec­tive part­ner­ships; explore the var­i­ous incen­tives that dri­ve New York City’s edu­ca­tion deci­sions; and use data to press for qual­i­ty improve­ments sys­temwide, includ­ing improved atten­dance rates. The pro­gram places a strong empha­sis on peer sup­port and apply­ing lessons to work in progress. 

The ulti­mate mark of suc­cess will be that the staff can exe­cute their lead­er­ship in a way that pro­duces results,” says Stew­art. Over the course of the school year, these lead­ers will use their results-based lead­er­ship skills to tack­le some of the most com­plex, mul­ti-dis­ci­pli­nary chal­lenges fac­ing the school system.”

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