Marietta to begin offering Teacher Leadership Certificate in fall

As the McDonough Center for Leadership and Business celebrates its 20th anniversary, the program's leaders continue to develop new ways of enriching the experience of Marietta College's students.

The latest cutting-edge initiative is a Teacher Leadership Certificate - a collaboration between the McDonough Leadership Program and the College's Education Department. The certificate, which will begin being offered in the fall of 2008, is designed for McDonough Scholars who are pursuing the education major at Marietta College, while interested in being a McDonough Scholar in the Leadership Program.

"While there are a number of graduate programs in teacher leadership, there are very few undergraduate programs. We will be on the cutting edge of this field of study for undergraduates," said Dr. Rita Smith Kipp, provost. "Because of their curricular requirements, our education majors have had difficulty participating in the Leadership programs until now. This new certificate program remedies that."

"Teacher leadership" has been emerging as a field of study since the mid-1990s. Traditionally the idea of leadership in a school setting has been associated with the school administrative team, headed by the principal. The majority of Educational Leadership programs in the United States are training grounds for future administrators.

According to Dr. Gama Perruci, dean of McDonough, eventually, practitioners and scholars alike began to realize that in order for positive change to occur in schools, teachers would need to be empowered as leaders. "Teacher leaders" do not need to leave the classroom in order to serve their students, colleagues, and schools in a leadership capacity.

"There is a natural fit between the needs of Marietta College's Education Department and McDonough. The McDonough Leadership Program can provide the coursework and faculty expertise to provide training in leadership skills that future educators need to become change agents as they enter the profession," Perruci said. "In a larger sense, this certificate allows students to see the connections between their studies and their work after graduation. Graduates will be prepared to enter the teaching profession as agents of change with a grounding in specific, identifiable leadership skills that fit well with their training in content delivery and pedagogy."

In order to pursue this certificate, students must be accepted into the McDonough Leadership Program through a separate application process. The criteria for admission into the program include: (1) strong record of academic achievement (minimum 3.0 grade point average in high school; minimum 500 SAT scores in Critical Reading and Writing; minimum 21 ACT scores in English and Reading); (2) evident record of leadership in high school and/or in the community; and (3) thoughtful and complete answers to the questions in the McDonough application form.

According to Dr. Dottie Erb, chair of the Education Department, "The teacher leadership certificate will strengthen our ability to fulfill the goals of our teacher education conceptual framework, "Creating Educators as Leaders for 21st Century Schools." We developed this framework in 1998 in response to what we viewed as the need for classroom teachers to act as change agents and effective collaborators in their schools. Courses in the new leadership program will enhance our attempts to produce teachers who stand out as leaders in their school buildings and districts."

The requirements for the new certificate include courses in Foundations of Leadership, Principles of Education, Organizational Leadership, Leadership Practicum I, From Teacher to Leader, Diverse Learners and 25 hours of community service.

"A key component of this definition (teacher leader) is influence. Influencing others is clearly a leadership skill that is essential if we are to equip Marietta College graduates who enter the education profession to work as leaders," said Dr. Tanya Judd Pucella, McDonough's Director of Civic Engagement. "Other skills for the teacher leader include problem solving, facilitation and deliberation, active listening, research and modeling. The issue that many teacher leaders face is that there is inadequate training in these and other leadership skills. Leadership instruction in education has traditionally focused on preparation to be an administrator. Teacher leaders often seek ways to influence teaching and learning without leaving the classroom for administrative roles. These teacher leaders influence others through both formal roles, such as department chair or heads of committees, or through informal roles, such as a mentor. However, just as administrators need preparation to lead, so do teachers."

"Many people and educators feel that leadership in a school system, either public or private, needs to come from the administrative level. This certificate will be very useful for all those heading toward a career in the education field," said Marshall Kimball, assistant professor and director of bands and instrumental activities. Prof. Kimball is a member of the faculty committee that reviewed and approved the proposal for the new certificate. "It's important to know how every educator can be a leader for change or to help make decisions on where change should happen. I truly believe that every student who avails himself of this certificate will be much better prepared for a career in education. As an educator, you can't just stand by and let someone else be responsible for all the leadership. Leadership is a responsibility of all in education."

In 1986, through a generous $5.5 million gift from McDonough's wife, Alma McDonough, and the McDonough Foundation, Marietta College established the Bernard P. McDonough Center for Leadership and Business. The Center offered one of the first comprehensive undergraduate leadership programs in the United States.