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Harvard Institute for Superintendents and District Leaders

5/14/17 to 5/17/17

Tuition: $3,025 per person

Priority Application Deadline: March 31, 2017

We are currently accepting and reviewing applications as space is available. For consideration, please submit an application at your earliest convenience, no later than May 8, 2017.

Faculty Chair Andrés Alonso discusses the program

What Will You Learn

How do you improve a district amidst competing political agendas and changing contexts of expectations and accountability? What are the essential questions and skills and strategies that you need to think through in order to bring excellence to all students? What does it take from your team and your communities? This institute will explore those questions, bringing leading experts in the field to reflect with you on your practice and help you understand your capacity to bring learning to every classroom and every child in your charge.

Program Overview

Superintendents and District Leaders have always been faced with enormous challenges. However, in the past two decades tremendous normative pressure to bring improvement to every school, classroom, and child, together with changes in the sector that have created competition for public school students, have changed the quality and enormity of those challenges. While there is consistent research about the characteristics of effective classrooms, schools, and districts, reaching excellence for all students, especially in districts with poor students, eludes most superintendents and their teams when they dive into the challenges of implementation. There are questions about the appropriate use of resources, navigating the micro politics of unions and boards, and sustaining capacity during leadership changes.

The institute focuses on the practice of leadership and the development of approaches and practices that build leadership in others with the goal of systemic improvement. While outlining the elements of the standards-based framework — clear expectations for what students should know; curricula that align with learning standards and provide teachers and students with rigorous content to develop knowledge and skills; professional development for administrators and teachers that improves the quality of instruction and leadership; and assessment for use both in reflecting on practice and in systems of accountability — it will emphasize the challenges of implementation and how superintendents should understand and influence the change process to bring about specific outcomes.  It will consistently emphasize that leading in the superintendency is about leading processes of change and improvement, recognizing the superintendent’s unique position in the organization of American schools as builders of public value and managers of operational capacity.

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In Leaders We Trust

Program Objectives
  • Develop and implement strategies that drive and sustain reform
  • Lead high-performance learning organizations
  • Develop the local capacity to sustain change
  • Collaborate with boards in order to ensure sustainability and focus
  • Foster effective leadership teams
  • Manage operational resources to serve a strategic vision
  • Understand how leadership can drive approaches to learning in the organization and classrooms
  • Learn strategies that challenge established notions of what is possible with all students
Who Should Attend
  • Superintendents and assistant superintendents
  • District Leaders
  • Central office administrators responsible for developing quality school systems
  • Board members
  • Teams of senior leaders and district leaders are encouraged to attend
Faculty Chair

Andrés Alonso is professor of practice at HGSE. A graduate of the School’s Urban Superintendents Program, and former Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning in New York City, Alonso served as CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools for six years. While in Baltimore, he led a reform effort that yielded marked improvement in achievement and climate data across all levels, and the first increases in enrollment in 40 years. A native of Cuba, Alonso graduated from Harvard Law School and practiced law before changing course and spending 12 years as a teacher of English Language Learners and students with disabilities in Newark, N.J., an experience that is at the core to his approach to leadership.


Individual Enrollment

Step One
You will be asked to provide your personal profile and institutional information.

Step Two
You will be asked to respond to the following questions:

  1. Explain how participation in the program will benefit your work and describe one or more significant challenges you would like to explore during the program. (250 word limit)
  2. In what ways do you expect your particular skills, experience and perspective to contribute to group discussions? (250 word limit)

Step Three
You will be asked to upload your resume or curriculum vitae (CV) as a single PDF document. Please ensure that the document lists the following elements of your professional and educational background in reverse-chronological order, beginning with your most recent activities.

  • Professional Experience
    For each position you have held, include:
    • Organization name
    • Dates worked
    • Title or position
    • A brief description of responsibilities
  • Educational Background
    For each educational institution you have attended, include:
    • College or university name
    • Dates you attended or date your degree was conferred
    • Degree earned

Team Enrollment

Identify Your Team Coordinator

  • Before beginning the application process, you will need to identify a team coordinator.
  • The coordinator will be the primary point of contact during the application process and preparation for the program.
  • The coordinator does not need to attend the program and will have the opportunity to indicate if they will be attending during the application process.

Application Process

  • A team application to be completed once by the coordinator.
  • A team member application to be completed by each member of your team.
  • In order for your team to be considered for review by the admissions committee, each team member will need to complete the team member application. The coordinator will receive a link to the team member application once the team application is complete.
  • Once started, the team application must be completed in a single session. It should take 15–20 minutes to complete.
  • A list of required questions will be provided at the beginning of the team application.
Fees, Hotel Accommodations, and Policies

The comprehensive tuition includes all instructional materials and refreshments. Participants receive a certificate of participation and a letter confirming clock hours of instruction.

Payment or a purchase order must be received within thirty days of program acceptance and prior to the program start. Participants are responsible for their own travel expenses. While a purchase order confirms a reservation, an outstanding balance is maintained until payment is rendered.

Please click here for more information on hotel accommodations for on-campus programs.

Please click here for more information on our on-campus and online refund and withdrawal policies. If you have any additional questions or concerns about your ability to participate, please contact our admissions team at or 1-800-545-1849.

The Harvard Graduate School of Education reserves the right to change faculty or cancel programs at its discretion. In the unlikely event of program changes, the school is not responsible for non-refundable travel arrangements or other planning expenses incurred.

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