What a remarkable celebration we had to honor our 14 years of supporting educational leaders on June 14! Thank you to everyone who attended or supported the event. More than 300 alums and supporters filled the hall at the New-York Historical Society.
We were honored to be joined by Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, former Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, and New York State Board of Regents members Kathleen Cashin, Judith Chin, and Lester Young. Hundreds of graduates of our Aspiring Principals and Leadership Advancement programs were there, as were our coached principals, nonprofit partners, donors, leaders in education, and friends who have helped the Leadership Academy expand and improve opportunities for hundreds of thousands of students each year.
How meaningful it was to hear Joel Klein and founding Leadership Academy Board Member Sy Sternberg recall the early days of the Leadership Academy, when public and private entities, corporations, non-profit groups, and foundations came together for the first time to invest $80 million in school leadership. Under Kathy Wylde’s stewardship, the Partnership for NYC alone raised more than a third of that, and The Wallace Foundation was another leading funder.
These leaders in educational leadership invested in then-Chancellor Klein’s belief that “there are no great schools without great leaders.”
As Klein told the crowd at our celebration, school leaders need to “know how to recruit, enlist, support, and develop great staff, great teachers … to create a culture that is mission driven, not ego driven. Those are the things that make a great school.” Being a great educational leader goes beyond leading instruction, he aptly noted: “It’s about how to deal with human beings, understand budget, deal with parents, set high expectations. The Leadership Academy is about all of that.”
For 14 years, we at the Leadership Academy have carried that banner, leveraging the incredible experience of our staff, many of them former school and school system leaders, to provide direct support and build the capacity of districts to strengthen educational leadership in more than 150 schools, districts, and state departments of education in 32 states and internationally.
Declaring June 14 “NYC Leadership Academy Day,” Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office issued a proclamation, presented by Karin Goldmark, education policy advisor to the First Deputy Mayor, stating, “NYCLA is an important partner in our efforts to run our schools on the twin engines of equity and excellence.”
Said Chancellor Farina, “As a former principal, I know just how rewarding, challenging, and important the work of leading a school is. I congratulate the Leadership Academy graduates and the Leadership Academy itself for its tremendous work to prepare and support great school leaders.”
At the event, we were proud to hear the voices of some of the principals we have supported and their students. Alumni speaker Wanda Vazquez, principal of El Puente Academy in Brooklyn inspired us, saying, “I am here to highlight the potential for power within this room, the significance for change within this room. Our work as educational leaders calls on us to work strategically and collectively to create the conditions that will prepare our young people for college, careers, life, and liberation. We are charged with providing a learning environment and developing curriculum that will provide students with multiple opportunities to discover who they are.”
We also premiered our short film, The Power of Leaders, featuring the voices of nearly a dozen New York City students talking about the impact their principals have had on their lives. The film features APP graduates Dr. Reggie Landeau of George J. Ryan Middle School 216, Wanda Vazquez of El Puente Academy, and Seung Yu of Academy for Software Engineering.
Principals Kimberly Swanson of Life Sciences Secondary School, Doris Lee of Village Academy Middle School, and Terri Grey of Bronx High School for Writing and Communication Arts were joined by their students and staff to present work they have been doing to dismantle inequities in their schools with support from a Leadership Academy grant funded by The Booth Ferris Foundation. The schools have created advisory, mentoring, and film programs for boys and young men of color, and led teachers in professional development focused on talking about race.
Our work would not be possible without the support of our Board of Directors led by Jonathan Moses, and their tremendous commitment to our mission and guiding principles.
We also extend a special thank you to our supporters, including current partners The American Express Foundation, The Booth Ferris Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and The Wallace Foundation.