The University of Tampa and Hillsborough County Public School Board have joined forces to focus on improving high-needs schools by encouraging teachers to receive advanced degrees specializing in school leadership for turn-around schools.
The initiative, which begins in fall 2017, establishes a special cohort of selected Hillsborough County Public School (HCPS) teachers who will pursue a master’s degree in educational leadership. The curriculum, which is designed to coordinate with the HCPS Leadership Pipeline, will focus on administrative leadership and emphasize improving high-needs schools.
A special focus of the M.Ed. (Educational Leadership) is the provision of an embedded course-aligned internship that will span the entire 30 credits of the program. Program participants will spend every semester in schools learning every aspect of school leadership.
HCPS will pay 50 percent of the tuition for these students. The program will be delivered on the UT campus, and will be taught by UT professors, as well as by highly respected school leaders from all of the five school districts across the Tampa Bay area.
“The turn-around leadership initiative is a great example of how teacher education entities can partner with community stakeholders to effect significant change in schools,” said Tony Erben, chair of UT’s Department of Education. “This is a lighthouse model on how leaders of the future can be developed.”
Yinka Alege, director of leadership development at HCPS, said another benefit of the program is that teachers selected for the M.Ed program will also work in high-needs schools so they can discuss and apply what they are learning from their perspective in those schools.
“The partnership allows our district to attract highly qualified teachers to work in high-need schools,” he said.
UT and HCPS will work together to interview each candidate who is selected through three stages of interview screening. This will include reviewing essays, recommendations and references, as well as 45-minute interviews at school site visits where both entities will interview colleagues, students, support staff, teacher leaders and school administrators in an effort to ensure only the best are selected.
According to Adrianne Wilson, graduate coordinator of the Educational Leadership program, this is UT’s first structured effort to specifically train the next generation of school principals targeted toward high-need schools.