In June, the Steelcase Foundation hosted the West Michigan Leadership Academy’s second cohort of school principals for three days of intensive professional learning and collaboration around equity, leading transformation, and communicating vision. The West Michigan Leadership Academy (WMLA), draws on the expertise of its parent company, New York City Leadership Academy (NYCLA), which was established nearly 20 years ago to build a talent pipeline of diverse principals and confront inequities within the nation’s largest school district. Using NYCLA’s research-based methods and focus on equity and change, WMLA provides place-based professional learning, specifically tailored to navigate the landscape of our area schools and understand the structural disparities that may contribute to inequitable opportunity and achievement.
As the kickoff for the yearlong work of WMLA and the principal cohort, the goals of the session were to:
- Build a professional network of collaboration among principals from neighboring districts;
- Identify instances of inequity and disparate treatment and develop collaborative solutions to improve outcomes for students;
- Understand the history of educational policies at the local, state and federal levels that have contributed to inequities and disparate practice;
- Uncover inequities through student achievement data for their schools and districts and develop strategies for improvement;
- Begin crafting a personal narrative to communicate their vision and act as change agents to transform their district.
In addition to the three-day professional development, the principals will attend half-day professional development sessions and receive one-on-one coaching throughout the school year to assist them in their efforts to confront inequities and inspire change in their schools and districts. We’re grateful to the WMLA staff and coaches and our local principals for the time and hard work they’ve invested to make Grand Rapids a great place for all students to learn.