AllentownSchool District

Allentown School District Creates Pipeline for New Educational Leaders

Allentown School District Creates Pipeline for New Educational Leaders
Posted on 09/05/2019
Allentown, PA (August 29, 2019) – The Allentown School District (ASD) is excited to partner with Lehigh University to give five current ASD staff the opportunity to develop and grow as leaders through the Residential Experience for Aspiring Leaders, or REAL Program. 

Funded through a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the REAL program will allow Allentown School District to develop leaders who have been teaching in the district and have the desire to complete the required coursework to obtain their principal certification. Five current teachers will be paired with educators from Lehigh University, professional mentors and a clinical supervisor to provide additional support as they obtain their certification.

In addition to the coursework, the program will provide principal interns with invaluable work experience as they shadow current ASD principals and robust mentors from Lehigh University and beyond. Adam Schmucker, who was named Pennsylvania’s National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals in 2018 will provide external mentorship opportunities to future ASD leaders. Schmucker is principal at Trumbauersville Elementary School in the Quakertown School District. 

 “It is important that ASD develop a pipeline of highly qualified and experienced leaders to help fill our administrative needs within the district,” said Thomas Parker, Superintendent of the Allentown School District. “I am excited to see so many of our staff with the dedication towards taking the next step in their professional journey and as a district I am proud to support their efforts.”

This partnership with institutions of higher learning, such as Lehigh, marks a significant first step towards achieving one of the strategic actions laid out in the district’s Strategic Framework. Developing a career ladder for certificated staff, including personalized professional development, is a priority for ASD.   

“I have personally seen the benefits of programs that provide intense mentorship and in turn, develop strong and capable leaders,” stated Parker. “Building our relationship with Lehigh to provide unique opportunities for our staff who wish to grow in this capacity will have a positive impact on many students in our city.”  

Three candidates were identified for the 2019-2020 school year who had already completed significant coursework towards their principal certification and are ready for the program’s full-time residency in an ASD school.  Juliet Saba will intern at Ramos Elementary, Mark Weiss at Harrison Morton Middle School and Lisa Brinker at Trexler Middle School. Current ASD principals will serve as mentors during the year long internship, allowing their shadows to learn and eventually complete many of the day to day tasks of leading a building within ASD. 

“By partnering with Lehigh University, we will equip the next generation of district leadership with the authentic, robust experiences they need to lead schools in the dynamic fashion our school community deserves,” said Dr. Kimberly Mackey, Executive Director of Secondary Education for ASD. “This partnership represents the first grow your own program to be instituted in the Allentown School District and we are eager to continue to develop educational leaders for years to come.”

Two additional teachers will begin coursework this year that will put them on the path towards certification. Reina Garcia, current Dean of Students at Dieruff HS and Juan Enriquez 8th grade Social Studies teacher at South Mountain will be placed in new schools for their internships in fall 2021.  

 “Principals face challenges in urban education that a classroom lecture or textbook cannot always prepare them for,” said Scott Cole, Executive Director of Elementary Education for ASD. “Hands-on job shadow opportunities are one of most effective ways to understand how leaders would react in various situations, and train them to make the best decisions possible on behalf of our students and their families.”