UCAPP Kicks Off Annual Workshop Series

Women engaged in a UCAPP lessonOn September 25, 2018, the University of Connecticut Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP) will begin its 4th annual series of UCAPP workshops. UCAPP workshops are designed to supplement UCAPP’s core curriculum by offering extensions to UCAPP’s current principal preparation program courses and internship opportunities.

The first two UCAPP workshops of the 2018-2019 school year will be held next week in New Haven, CT, and Hartford, CT. These UCAPP workshops, called ‘Core Values, Mission, and Vision + Budget’ first will challenge aspiring UCAPP Leaders to identify their own core values and beliefs about educational leadership.

Next, students will work in small groups of aspiring elementary principals at ‘Neag Elementary School’ and aspiring high school principals at ‘Neag High School’ to simulate the development of each school’s vision and mission statements. These vision and mission statements will be based on simulated school data and budget considerations developed by the UCAPP Workshops planning team.

Although UCAPP workshops are optional for students, each one provides a collaborative, hands-on adult learning experience utilizing authentic case studies, real data, artifacts and documents, and simulations. The process to create and develop the UCAPP workshop structure aligns closely with the Carnegie Foundation’s improvement science process. Specifically, UCAPP utilized the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) inquiry method in improvement science to address identified gaps in UCAPP’s ever-evolving core curriculum.

The UCAPP workshop model fills gaps between iterations of UCAPP’s core curriculum, and provide flexibility for the program to respond to student needs quickly and intentionally as standards, innovations, and policies emerge within the profession. Such stop-gap practices also support the program’s other processes to develop enhancements for continuous improvement between iterations of the core curriculum. In fact, since the implementation of the UCAPP workshop model, curriculum gaps identified by the program and filled by workshops are now leading to more permanent enhancements to continuously improve both the curriculum and student internship as part of the UCAPP’s elective redesign process.

“UCAPP Workshops fill gaps between iterations of our core curriculum, and provide flexibility for the program to respond to student needs quickly and intentionally as standards, innovations, and policies emerge within the profession.”
- Jonathan Carter, 3rd-year doctoral student

The workshop planning team consists of UCAPP’s current graduate assistant, Jonathan Carter, who is in his 3rd-year of his doctoral degree, UCAPP’s Program Coordinator, Joanne Manginelli and UConn’s Director of Educational Leadership Preparation Programs, Dr. Richard Gonzales.

The team constantly monitors ongoing shifts in the educational leadership field to strategically incorporate new UCAPP workshops into the academic calendar. UCAPP Workshops for 2018-2019 include the expansion of its popular career planning webinars, culminating with the 3rd Annual Mock Interview Day in two locations over two separate dates. Other new UCAPP workshops events for 2018-2019 include a series of Connecticut Administrator Test (CAT) study sessions led by EDLR’s Dr. Jennie Weiner and sessions facilitated by Dr. Chip Dumais on School Safety & Crisis Management and Social Media.

The 2018-19 UCAPP workshops will offer second-year students an innovative new series of five webinars on “Cultural Responsiveness.” These webinars will explore what it means for each of our aspiring school leaders to be a culturally responsive leader today.

Richard Gonzales

Looking ahead, first-year students can choose to participate in the following UCAPP Workshops:

  • Core Values, Vision, and Mission
  • Professional Learning Planning
  • PPT / Special Education
  • SRBI
  • Talent Management
  • Situational Leadership (Culture & Climate)
  • Situational Leadership (Family & Community Engagement)

Second-year UCAPP Leaders will have additional opportunities to further supplement their leadership preparation through these targeted workshops:

  • Career Planning
  • CAT/ELAS Preparation
  • School Safety & Crisis Management
  • Social Media

We look forward to the continued success of the UCAPP Workshops series, and encourage interested parties to visit UCAPP Workshops for more information or to register for an upcoming event.

Administrator Tyrone Richardson Excels While Inspiring Others

Tyrone Richardson
Photo courtesy of Tyrone Richardson

The Excellence in Educational Leadership Award is an annual recognition by the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) for practicing school administrators, who have concurrently made contributions to the improvement of administrator preparation. This year, a member of the University of Connecticut Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP) faculty, Tyrone Richardson, was recognized with this award.

Richardson has served for the past six years as Principal of Betances STEM Magnet School in Hartford, CT. He holds a B.A. in Theater Arts/Communication/Elementary Education from Western Connecticut State University, an M.S. in Education from Cambridge College, and his Principal Certification 092 from Central Connecticut State University. As an alumnus of Hartford Public Schools, Richardson has a special connection with the community, and he is deeply dedicated to the success of Hartford students. At UConn, Richardson is involved with UCAPP and the UPPI Wallace redesign effort.

Richardson has worked with UCAPP for the past three years, designing and presenting class seminars on subjects ranging from the budgeting process and building teams as a leader to crisis management. This past year, he also served as a professor in practice for UCAPP PLUS courses. During class sessions, he brought practical and real-life experiences to the theories and research presented by faculty. .

Within UCAPP, Richardson serves as what is known as a mentor principal. In this role, he mentors aspiring administrators in the UCAPP program by providing them access to the school, working as a leadership role model, and assigning them an active role on the team. Richardson also supports UCAPP staff with program implementation and recently joined members at a national conference where they presented best practices, and were exposed to many rich ideas.

“He has contributed in substantive ways to the University of Connecticut’s administrator preparation program by leading workshops on topics in Educational Leadership, collaborating with University faculty to teach issues in relevant and rigorous ways, and mentoring aspiring principals from across the state of Connecticut,” remarked Associate Professor of Educational Leadership,
Dr. Sarah Woulfin.

Richardson did not always envision becoming a principal, but considered it after one of his previous principals identified his strengths, and encouraged him to join a leadership cohort. As a teacher, he always enjoyed helping students, and he then realized that by supporting teachers and other administrators he can impact the lives of even more students.

In addition to his enthusiasm in the classroom, Richardson is also an active voice on Twitter. He tweets pictures of students in the classroom as well as on field trips. Additionally, he uses it as a platform to recognize teachers, staff and students for enacting the school’s value and mission. This untraditional platform sets Richardson apart and offers new channels of communication with faculty and students.

For aspiring educational leaders, Richardson offers this piece of advice,

“Keep thinking about our future and the evolution of education as you prepare students to interact with one another. We can’t continue to teach students in the same fashion that we were taught in. Lead, model, be innovative, and put yourself out there to make mistakes. Above all be patient and remember you are working with kids. School is for them.”

Transforming Principal Preparation: Reflecting on UPPI’s Progress

Transforming Principal Preparation: Reflecting on UPPI’s Progress

Casey Cobb and Miguel Cardona at UPPI kickoff meeting
Casey Cobb, Neag Endowed Professor of Educational Policy (left) and Miguel Cardona ’01 MA, ’04 6th Year, ’11 Ed.D., assistant superintendent for teaching and learning for Meriden (Conn.) Public Schools, take part in a UPPI kickoff meeting earlier this year. (Photo Credit: Shawn Kornegay/Neag School)

As 2017 nears its close, work on the University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI) — an initiative led at UConn by the Neag School’s University of Connecticut Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP) — is getting ready to celebrate its first birthday. This past year, UConn was one of seven universities selected to take part in the Wallace Foundation-funded initiative, which launched officially in January and is focused on improving training programs for aspiring school principals nationwide. At UConn, UCAPP is a school leadership program based at the Neag School that prepares highly qualified school administrators in Connecticut.

Faculty from the Neag School, administrators from the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), leaders from several public school districts in Connecticut, and other stakeholders­ from across the nation who have joined UConn’s UPPI workgroups are collaborating to address how university principal preparation programs — working in partnership with high-needs school districts, exemplary preparation programs, and the state — can improve their training so it reflects the evidence on how best to prepare effective principals. Over the past 10 months, these workgroups have been developing a “theory of action” for redesigning UCAPP that is focused on three main facets: revising the UCAPP curriculum, developing a leader tracking system, and redesigning the program’s internship component.

“UCAPP is universally recognized as a top program that creates opportunities and helps other programs. We’re looking to continuously improve the program so this momentum can keep up steam for years to come.”

— Richard Gonzales,
UPPI project director and principal investigator

“The main question we’re asking here is: How can a traditional university program work with partners to redesign themselves and align with the best in the field?” says Richard Gonzales, project director and principal investigator for UPPI. Gonzales has coordinated the effort to redesign and improve the program so that the curriculum and the internship experience parallel each other more effectively.

For the Connecticut State Department of Education, this partnership will, according to Sarah Barzee, CSDE chief talent officer, allow for a “transformation through a targeted focus on principal preparation with the goal of ensuring that each and every principal enters this phase of their career with the knowledge, skills, and understanding to be a ‘school-ready’ principal.”

Curriculum Revision
The workgroup taking on revisions to the UCAPP curriculum has come together to review existing UCAPP curriculum materials, syllabi, and more in order to identify the programs’ strengths as well as areas of opportunity — with the ultimate goal in mind of proposing solutions and improvements where appropriate. The workgroup was co-chaired by Sarah Woulfin, assistant professor in the Neag School, and Erin Murray, assistant superintendent for Simsbury (Conn.) Public Schools.

“Principals are no longer merely managers inside the office; rather, they are responsible for transforming teaching and learning to yield equitable outcomes for children, families, and communities,” say workgroup members in a self-assessment report they issued this past summer. “Wallace UPPI is grounded in the theory of action that if university-based principal preparation programs improve, then principals will be more effective leaders to promote positive educational outcomes.”

The report proposes a variety of short-term and long-term next steps and recommendations for improving the UCAPP curriculum, some of which could potentially involve piloting, testing, and refining new approaches. It also points out existing gaps in data collection and analysis, “acknowledg[ing] that the leader tracking system will enable the program to obtain additional data.”

Developing a Leader Tracking System
Meanwhile, the Leader Tracking System (LTS) is being developed to evaluate leadership development from the district, university, and state perspectives. The workgroup behind these efforts envisions using such a system to provide data to the Connecticut State Department of Education, partner districts, and the Neag School that would ultimately be used to make decisions about the preparation, hiring, development, and placement of school leaders.

According to Louis Bronk, director of talent at Meriden (Conn.) Public Schools and a co-chair for the UPPI workgroup focused on the LTS, the team is focused on figuring out what they are specifically looking for in school leadership, and what information and data they need to answer this question. A fully realized LTS would ultimately outline what qualities candidates must exhibit and what knowledge they must possess.

Sarah Woulfin at UPPI kickoff meeting
Sarah Woulfin, a Neag School assistant professor and member of the UPPI Steering Committee, takes part in a UPPI kickoff meeting on the UConn Storrs campus earlier this year. (Photo Credit: Shawn Kornegay/Neag School)

“From a university standpoint, the LTS would provide information on a candidate’s success post-graduation for the prep program,” says Bronk. “From a [school] district perspective, it will allow us to evaluate our internal leadership development systems and also allow us to better engage in data-driven decision making in regard to administrator placement and development.”

Internship Redesign
For UPPI’s internship workgroup, the goal has been “to bring coherence to all aspects of the internship across the three models of training within UCAPP,” says Jennifer Michno, co-chair of UPPI’s internship workgroup. The three models of training within UCAPP include a traditional track, designed for Connecticut-certified educators with at least three years of experience in teaching; a track known as Preparing Leaders for Urban Schools (PLUS), for educators working in Hartford or New Haven (Conn.) public schools; and a residency track, which is designed to prepare principal candidates to serve specifically in turnaround schools.

In its efforts to unite the internship component across UCAPP’s models, the workgroup will be looking, Michno says, not only to shift the internships from a focus on supervision to one on coaching, but also to bring measurability to all facets of the UCAPP internship at large and to decide on consistent practices and protocols that will be used across all UCAPP internships.

In addition, the workgroup is partnering on internship redesign efforts with a number of other collaborators from across the nation, including the New York City Leadership Academy, a nonprofit that prepares and supports educators to lead schools, and mentors assigned through the University of Illinois-Chicago.

As the UPPI project progresses, such collaborative efforts across each of the workgroups will continue to evolve. “UCAPP is universally recognized as a top program that creates opportunities and helps other programs,” Gonzales says. “We’re looking to continuously improve the program so this momentum can keep up steam for years to come.”

Learn more about the Neag School’s involvement in the University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI) and how it is working to transform principalship at s.uconn.edu/UPPI.

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