Penn GSE and SDP partner to strengthen principal leadership pipeline

October 23, 2019
Deanna Henderson, Elizabeth Curry, Pam Grossman, Anthony Pitsakis

The first Innovative Principal Residence Program Fellows, from left, Deanna Henderson, Cayuga Elementary; Elizabeth Curry, Olney Elementary; Pam Grossman, Penn GSE Dean; Anthony Pitsakis, Academy at Palumbo; and Jeannie Wells-Hughes, Wright Elementary.

The School District of Philadelphia’s Board of Education recently approved the Innovative Principal Residence Program (IPRP) at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE). Four School District of Philadelphia (SDP) teachers will spend a year preparing to lead high-needs schools in the principal residency program, which was created as a collaboration between Penn GSE and the SDP.

Established through a $300,000 grant from Pennsylvania’s Department of Education, the year-long program provides the SDP with an additional high-quality leadership pathway aimed at expanding the District's pipeline of effective leaders — particularly for high-needs schools. 

"The Innovative Principal Residence Program highlights our belief in developing School District of Philadelphia educators to grow and become future school leaders,” said Michael Farrell, Deputy Chief of Leadership Development at the School District of Philadelphia. “In this model, we also honor the leadership of the placement schools, who have made significant progress over the past few years and serve as excellent learning sites for our aspiring leaders." 

“This program reflects our deep commitment to the District,” said Pricilla Dawson, Co-Director of the Penn GSE School Leadership Program. “We recognize the unique challenges that come with leading a high-needs school. Throughout this year, we are excited to learn with these educators as we think about ways to build resilience and strengthen leadership in our education community."

The selected fellows (all current SDP teachers) are: 

  • Elizabeth Curry of Olney Elementary (Principal Michael Roth)
  • Deanna Henderson of Cayuga Elementary (Principal Jason Carrion)
  • Antonios Pitsakis of Academy at Palumbo (Principal Anthony K. Thompson)
  • Jeanine Wells-Hughes of Richard Wright Elementary School (Principal J. Payne) 

Beginning this month, the selected residents join Penn GSE’s School Leadership Program. The residents will be paid a salary and benefits, and the SDP will fund their substitute teachers. In addition to matriculating to the executive format program, the fellows will have a year-long clinical experience, customized curriculum, and intensive supports that prepare the aspiring principals to serve in high-needs areas of Philadelphia. Placement schools represent low-socioeconomic neighborhoods, diverse populations, a steady increase in meeting their PSSA goals over a three-year time period, and strong and stable leadership. The Penn IPRP also will have an additional program of support for residents/newly-appointed principals beyond the residency year.

The University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education is ranked #2 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school, launched in 1914, has a long history of training teachers and leaders for the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia region. Twenty-nine SDP principals are graduates of Penn GSE, including a graduate of the Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership, Ted Domers, who is leading one of the SDP’s two National Blue Ribbon schools this year. In addition to the IPRP, Penn GSE’s Urban Teaching Apprenticeship Program has partnered with the SDP to prepare high school or middle school STEM teachers.