Educational Leadership at Loyola: A program that prepares future great school leaders to lead great schools
“I have never seen a great school without a great principal.” Early in my leadership journey I attended a leadership conference sponsored by the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP). As usual, the sessions on school leadership were very insightful, especially the opening session. The former Superintendent of the Maryland State Department of Education, Dr. Nancy Grasmick, gave the keynote speech. Dr. Grasmick eloquently shared her wisdom on the important role and work of the school principal. However, what really caught my attention was the memento or giveaway for the attendees. On the table in the back of the auditorium was a pile of long white note pads. I grabbed a handful of pads for me and my colleagues. My eyes were immediately drawn to the bottom of the note pad where in green ink I saw this statement. This short but powerful statement in green ink has remained with me throughout my career in education. What does it take to be a great principal? Is there a list of characteristics, or a “How to” guide out there somewhere?
I have continued to search for the ingredients in the secret sauce of great school leadership in my work as a lecturer in the Educational Leadership program at Loyola University Maryland. While there is a measured dose of common sense in the answer, there is specific course content to be explored and studied by our graduate students and the successful completion of a two semester 6-credit internship experience in the Educational Leadership program. Fast forward and review how all of our lives and our programs have been impacted by the Covid-19 Pandemic. The pandemic has highlighted and tested the ability of school leaders to provide and support the needs of their students and staff in the midst of uncertainty and change in the school building and daily instruction. Do our programs reflect and support these changes?
The Educational Leadership program at Loyola is invested in providing a program for future great school leaders to acquire, practice, and apply the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively lead schools in the 21st Century. As such, our leadership internship program is currently a virtual platform designed to build and maintain strong relationships between the Loyola internship supervisor and the intern.
Since many of our internship supervisors are currently or have served as school leaders and teach the courses in the program, foundational relationships strengthen and grow during the internship. We have designed monthly seminars to model effective virtual instruction and provide pragmatic content, discussion, and networking closely aligned with the authentic work of leading schools, staff, and students. In the spirit of Cura Personalis, flexible office hours for small groups and one-on-one sessions are provided for interns by the internship supervisors for mentoring, problem-solving, coaching, and support.
In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins (2001) explained how organizations make the leap from good to great with the leadership of a great leader, or a Level 5 leader. The Educational Leadership Program at Loyola is ready to help our future school leaders make the leap and become great school leaders leading great schools.
Dr. Regina Massella is a lecturer in the M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (Admin I) program at Loyola University Maryland's School of Education.