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Selection under way for leadership program

CONYERS - More than 20 educators in Rockdale County are one step closer to having the opportunity to get some hands-on training to further their careers.

Starting Monday, the Rockdale County School System superintendent's cabinet members will interview 15 teachers and seven assistant principals who want to be in the RCPS Aspiring Leaders Academy, a program designed to prepare future leaders.

In the fall, 40 educators applied for one of the 10 or so spots.

"We are looking for quality, not quantity," said Linda Sevigny, director of professional development at RCPS.

This is the third year for the program, which was created several years ago under the direction of Superintendent Samuel King.

To apply, educators in RCPS complete an application packet that includes a checklist of their leadership qualities, a letter of recommendation from a school administrator, a current school evaluation, their resume and a list of their career strengths and weaknesses.

"We ask for strengths and weaknesses because our goal with this (program) is to encourage leadership, as well as growth," Sevigny said.

Applicants also must provide a copy of their education certificate. Those who already hold a leadership degree are discouraged from applying because that is what the academy is designed to teach.

The superintendent's cabinet members will conduct interviews and then select those who will enter the program.

Those who are accepted into the academy will choose one of two pathways - a principal pathway for assistant principals in the program or an assistant principal pathway for other educators who would like to become administrators.

The entire group will start together with a two-day workshop at the end of January, but the two groups will then follow the two separate paths of workshops and courses.

Over the next five months, the educators will take self assessments, read literature and assignments, attend workshops, courses and training, participate in independent online course work and observe and shadow administrators in various grade levels.

"It's a blended course," Sevigny said. "We want to limit the transition period ... and try to fill in the gaps."

School officials also will assess the aspiring leaders against national leadership standards and have them complete a growth plan, she said.

The educators attend several workshops led by state and local leaders in various departments on subjects such as law, planning, budgeting and other administrator duties. Workshops and training sessions are held during school breaks, and some will be held during regular school days.

At the end of the program, the aspiring leaders will come back together to present their final presentations and their growth plans to their peers in the program and cabinet members.

To successfully complete the program, the educators must participate in all of the academy's activities and course work, turn in high quality work and meet the cabinet member's requirements in the exit presentation. The officials will participate in a special ceremony and luncheon at the end of the program in the spring.

Once educators complete the academy, they are not guaranteed a position as an administrator, as the program is designed to be more of a resume builder and provide them with professional learning opportunities, Sevigny said. Once an administrator position comes open in RCPS or another school district, those who have completed the program will be able to use this experience as part of their qualifications for the job.

The professional development department generally releases applications for the Aspiring Leaders Academy each fall at principal meetings and professional learning activities.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.