Finding and Keeping School Adminstrators

By Gene Spanneut

Finding and keeping qualified building-level administrators always has been a challenge in our rural region of central New York State. The 25 superintendents in, and the district superintendent of the Wayne-Finger Lakes Board of Cooperative Educational Services (WFL BOCES) several years ago decided the best way to do so was to grow them ourselves.

We created the Wayne-Finger Lakes Leadership Institute in 2002 with four goals in mind: to identify entry-level school leaders from educators within our schools and region; to give these candidates a chance to learn about educational leadership; to offer them incentives to pursue graduate programs for administration certification; and to provide paid internships for them in our districts.

We knew that the participation of nearby colleges with graduate education administration programs was a key to the program’s success. Their willingness to become partners was an essential institute ingredient. Our higher-education partners are two public universities -- the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Brockport and SUNY Oswego -- and two private institutions -- Saint John Fisher College and the University of Rochester.

With our partners in place, we worked to get another key element for the program: paid internships. Internships are an important part of any graduate program in education administration, but most students find it difficult to take unpaid leaves of absence to complete internship requirements. We agreed to extend internships to a full school year even though the required lengths of time varied for each of the graduate programs. We all understood that school-year internships would provide much richer experiences for the students.
 
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