Bathed in the dusky haze of the afternoon sun, the smell of freshly mowed grass hovering as an undeniable harbinger of spring, the University of La Verne baseball and softball teams on April 8 don...
University of La Verne’s Center for Teacher Leadership employs a new model for more impact in schools.
Julie Vitale has never been more proud of being a University of La Verne alumnus.
Vitale, the principal of Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Corona who graduated from La Verne in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in history, attributes the shaping of many of her leadership qualities to the university’s Center for Teacher Leadership. Now that she’s sending her teachers to the CTL’s weeklong summer sessions, she’s seeing them develop the same type of quality leadership skills, and she’s beaming with pride.
“I think its an outstanding program, one that helps people understand what it is to be a teacher leader,” Vitale said. “I first went through the program about 12 years ago, and it fundamentally shifted the way I viewed teaching. It’s very empowering and taught me how to be a teacher leader and get involved.”
Since its inception in 1994, the Center for Teacher Leadership has maintained three goals: to collaborate with local school districts in identifying teacher leadership training needs, to identify existing and emerging teacher leaders, and to provide training and support for teacher leaders. The program is organized by the University of La Verne’s College of Education and Organizational Leadership, and conducted by CEOL dean Mark Goor, Peggy Redman and Tom McGuire.
The original model called for this to be done one teacher at a time. But Margaret “Peggy” Redman, director of the Teacher Education Program at La Verne and one of the CTL’s organizers, says it became evident that that method proved to be lacking.
“When one person from a school attended, he or she would go back to his or her school on fire, but nobody else would be,” Redman said. “With the new model, a group attends, then goes back to their school and develops a bond of leadership between themselves.”
At Roosevelt, this is called the “Stang Group” after the school’s nickname, the Mustangs. Last summer, Roosevelt’s second group completed the program, further strengthening the presence of CTL-trained leaders at the Corona high school, which opened in 2006.
“I knew if I had that type of experience that I would love to offer that to my teachers,” Vitale said. “The last two years, those teachers, called “Stang Groups” — because we’re the Mustangs — have developed a protocol for teachers observing other teachers. It’s really had a positive impact on our campus. Our teachers who attend the sessions feel special and are treated special, and it has solidified their roles on campus here.”
The CTL sessions feature keynote speakers recognized nationally for their expertise in teacher leadership and organizational change. Some, such as Terry Deal, Leonard Pellicer and Tom Harvey, have strong La Verne ties and multiple publishings.
Roosevelt now has 20 teachers who have completed the CTL program. If it’s up to Vitale, there will be many more to follow.
“I would love that,” she said. “We’ll keep sending teachers as long as they keep inviting us back.”