Teacher leadership program launched

Published 4:15 pm Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Longwood University has partnered with the Virginia Department of Education to launch a teacher leadership program for struggling school districts across the state.

The program is a culmination of workshops provided to public educators within the participating schools, which include Lynchburg, Newport News, Martinsville, Norfolk, Petersburg, Richmond and Portsmouth, according to a university press release.

Email newsletter signup

“It’s been very, very rewarding,” said Dr. Nancy Riddell, professor of education and the director of the program.

The state’s department of education contacted Riddell and Dr. Gerry Sokol, an education professor who serves as the program’s co-director, and asked the pair if they would be interested in implementing a teacher leadership program at Longwood.

“We’re just thrilled about the program,” Riddell said.

A press release from Longwood states that the school was awarded $366,000 to get the program up and running.

“Longwood partnered with the Virginia Department of Education on the new Teacher Leadership Program, which trains teams from low-performing school districts in leadership skills — a process in which schools can build a culture of high performance from within their faculty,” the release stated.

Riddell said teachers from 20 schools around the state were chosen to participate in the inaugural Teacher Leadership Program, which was held in Hull auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 13.

Riddell said that the participating schools were chosen by the department of education as targeted schools that were accredited with warning or denied accreditation.

She said none of the chosen schools for the first round were local.

Riddell said there was a possibility of starting a teacher leadership academy at Longwood for schools not chosen to participate in the leadership program by the state.

“Leadership is emphasized in these training sessions,” Sokol said in the release. “What that does is make this program sustainable. Creating a team of people in each school who can drive positive change and function as a resource for other teachers is the way to change a school’s culture and trajectory.”

Riddell said teachers are paid a stipend to attend the leadership program to acknowledge the importance of their time.

As a veteran public educator, Riddell said she understands the challenges when it comes to public education. She also worked in school administration for about eight years and has built a strong team to aid in the leadership program process.