June 27, 2003

New Leaders “Graduate” From USD’s Principal Academy

Twenty-two new principals and school administrators are set to fill leadership positions in the San Diego City Schools, following completion of an innovative training program at the University of San Diego.

USD’s Educational Leadership Development Academy (ELDA), identifies talented teachers with leadership potential and provides accelerated training including summer classes, paid on-the-job training and a mentoring program to prepare them to be effective principals, vice principals and math and literacy administrators.

Kearny High School Principal Cheryl Seelos, left, and Ana Diaz-Booz. Seelos was Diaz-Booz' supervising principal during her academy training. Photo by: Gary Payne.

The class of 22 was honored at a luncheon June 10 at USD’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. Both San Diego Superintendent Alan Bersin and San Diego School Board Member Katherine Nakamura attended the luncheon.

Ana Diaz-Booz, who is now a fully credentialed math administrator, said she liked the program’s emphasis on serving urban schools with diverse populations. The program “dealt specifically, not generally” with challenges facing urban districts such as busing or community issues. Diaz-Booz will continue working at Kearny High School where she completed her internship.

Diego Gutierrez, who interned at Crawford High School, also earned his math administrator credential to help teachers improve mathematics instruction. Narcisco Garcia, who interned at Euclid Elementary School, earned his principal’s credential.

The Broad Foundation has provided a $4.7 million grant to support the academy.

“I believe public education is the leading civil rights issue of the 21st century,” said Eli Broad. “There is no more important contribution to the nation’s future than a long-term commitment to improving K-12 public schools.”

“We are pleased with the academy’s progress and the contribution it will make to San Diego’s schools,” Broad said. “The Leadership Academy is a model for other urban school districts in the nation.”

In fact, New York City Schools Supt. Joel Klein recently expressed his desire to create a program similar to the academy to support reform in his district.

Because of vacancies created by administrators taking early retirement, many of this year’s class of 22 are expected to find leadership positions at San Diego schools.

“This new generation of school principals will play an even more important role in providing leadership and promoting student achievement in light of the severe state budget cuts to education,” said Paula Cordeiro, dean of USD’s School of Education.

Nakamura said the academy also will help to relieve an impending shortage of school principals. Some 40 percent of current principals are set to retire over the next decade.

“On behalf of all the students, parents and teachers in the San Diego City Schools, I want to thank The Broad Foundation for its generous support to help us to continue our professional development efforts during these difficult budgetary times,” Bersin said.

Led by Elaine Fink, a national leader in school reform, the Leadership Academy began in 2000 as a partnership between the school district, the business community and San Diego colleges and universities. The 22 members of this year’s class follow 25 candidates who successfully earned credentials to serve as principals and administrators in the first two years. Another 15 candidates are expected to begin the program this summer.

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