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Lynch Academy Takes Part in Leadership Summit

11/01/12

By Ed Hayward | Chronicle Staff

Published: Nov. 1, 2012

Twenty-seven principals from the District of Columbia Public Schools and Washington, DC-area charter schools joined the Lynch Leadership Academy’s 2012 class of fellows for a Leadership Summit in the nation’s capital last week. It was the inaugural summit hosted by the academy, the first in the country to bring together principals from the public, Catholic and charter sectors of K-12 education.

The two-day program provided the academy’s 22 mid-career principals from Boston public, Catholic and charter schools and their peers from Washington, DC, with the opportunity to hear from education experts and to visit inner-city schools where principals have raised student achievement. [Washington Catholic schools could not participate because of the demands of an ongoing accreditation process.]

Lynch Leadership Academy Director Thaly Germain said the addition of Washington-area principals to the summit will expand the reach of the academy and also deepen the expertise it can draw on to create leadership development focused squarely on the work principals must do inside their schools, and in the communities that support them.

“Traveling to Washington gives our LLA fellows the chance to see first-hand the effective practices taking root at schools that are like their schools – we want this to be very individualized,” said Germain, who was hired as the academy’s first full-time director in June. “The first day’s Leadership Summit is a new approach where we bring in practitioners with a range of perspectives who have made an impact on student achievement.”

Now in its second year, the Lynch Leadership Academy was created with a $20 million gift from noted philanthropists and BC benefactors Peter and Carolyn Lynch, for whom the Lynch School of Education is named. BC Trustee Peter Lynch ’65, H ’95, and Carolyn Lynch H ’09, set out to create a program that combines mentoring, executive development and networking to support the next generation of school leaders in three crucial sectors of the K-12 system.

The Leadership Summit comes as Washington, DC, public schools are developing a similar program focused on the model developed by the LLA, which is a joint venture of the Carroll School of Management and the Lynch School of Education.

When Germain put the call out inviting Washington principals to the event, nearly 50 responded, Germain said, a reflection of the growing demand for improved professional development for early- and mid-career principals engaged in jobs many now consider crucial to improved schools and greater rates of achievement for students.

Monday’s Leadership Summit was held at the Hill Center, a facility Germain picked because of the community’s role in converting the Old Naval Hospital into a community center. For today’s principal, Germain said, it’s crucial to make connections with the local community and a diverse set of stakeholders.

Likewise, a dinner on Monday night was held at Eatonville, named after the hometown of novelist Zora Neale Hurston. Linked to his nearby bookstore, restaurateur Andy Shallal has sought to make connections between literature and life, as well as between his eatery and its neighbors, Germain said.

Last Tuesday, principals visited public schools and charter schools where principals have had a track record of improved student performance. LLA fellows traveled in small groups to schools in neighborhoods throughout the city, including the Thurgood Marshall Academy and the Harriet Tubman Elementary School.

“Site visits are probably one of the most important things a principal can do and it’s a big challenge for them to get the time to do that,” said Germain. “If you don’t see excellence at work, it’s hard to replicate it. You don’t know what the end point is. The summit and the school visits give principals a chance to see effective practices, so they can implement them in their own schools.”

For more information about the Lynch Leadership Academy, see www.bc.edu/lynchacademy.