77 Survivors Are NYC's Newest Principals
In the summer of '03 the first class
in New York City Leadership Academy's Aspiring Principals
Program endured some tough training. It was so tough, said
Verone Kennedy at their recent graduation ceremony at Baruch
College, that "when the Blackout occurred
we thought it was another simulation."
Mr. Kennedy, an elementary school
specialist, was one of 77 newly minted principals who survived
the summer of '03 "boot
camp" in Queens, then a challenging year on the job at
a NYC public school being mentored by its principal, and some
additional training this summer.
They had been teachers, guidance counselors, school staff
members and assistant principals before being chosen by the
Leadership Academy for the grueling principal training course
from 400 applicants from around the country.
At their ceremony these hardy souls received heady praise
and exhortation from other survivor-types: top city and school
officials and corporate CEOs.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the
keynote speaker, told them they were "the right people to lead the next generation
of future citizens. Many people," he said, "look
at the city's public school and see a system too complicated
to reform. The one and only way to success is to have the right
leadership in the right place at the right time, and you are
the right leaders...dynamic, new, energetic leaders."
Chancellor Joel Klein told them, "I'm so proud of each
and every one of you. I'm the proud Papa of 77 kids.
For me as Chancellor it doesn't get better than this. A great
principal is the key to a school's success, but in public education
we have placed very little emphasis on principals, have rarely
searched out and supported talent. We asked the private sector, "What
would you think about intensive and rigorous training in the
principal's job, followed by a year's mentoring? $65,000,000
was raised to fund this effort. The Mayor made education the
centerpiece of his administration. He has to, and will, create
a system of 1,200+ great schools. All he asks of you is to
deliver. You're ready for that challenge. Go for it!"
"I spent a week with you students. I know how good you
are. You are better than you have any idea," said John
F. Welch, former Chief Executive Officer, General Electric. "Make
your school the most exciting place in New York. Make it fun
to come to for students and teachers. Every day you think you're
a bore, smack yourself!"
Richard Parsons, Chairman and CEO,
Time Warner, gave them "Five
pieces of advice as you take up leadership: 1) Get rid of obstructers
2) Borrow credibility-make people who have respect part of
your team 3) Set realistic priorities and expectations. Don't
over promise. 4) Practice prudent patience. The system didn't
get broken overnight. It won't get fixed overnight. 5) Believe
As the 77 "dynamic, new, energetic" principals
begin leading their schools this fall, 90 future principals,
NYC Leadership Academy's second class, are being trained
The Academy gets high marks from
Mayor Mike, as "a perfect
example of public private partnership committed to the leadership
of New York City. It is the cornerstone of the reform of the
public school system. The system can't succeed," he said, "unless
principals are great leaders. What the Leadership Academy permits
us to do is to make sure such excellence is the rule, not the
For more information about NYC Leadership Academy see www.nycleadershipacademy.org