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HGSE and HBS Partner on New Certificate Program

By Casey Bayer on February 15, 2018 7:55 AM
Hosted on the HBX platform, the Certificate in School Management and Leadership will focus on providing preK–12 school leaders with skills, knowledge, frameworks, and a community network to drive change and lead high-performing schools.

Principals today increasingly have multi-dimensional roles — so much so that the role of the principal might be unrecognizable to those from the 1960s, '70s, or '80s, as the Center for American Progress states. Along with the expectation that they serve as instructional experts, principals also function as CEOs of their schools, with responsibilities that span from acting as organizational managers and change agents; to attracting, motivating, and retaining teachers; to planning professional development opportunities.

The Harvard Graduate School of Education and Harvard Business School have collaborated on a new professional learning opportunity designed for the nearly 114,000 principals — as well as 78,000 assistant principals and 210,000 teachers aspiring to move into school leadership — across the United States. The Certificate in School Management and Leadership (CSML) seeks to improve their effectiveness in schools, and help leaders navigate the intricacies of their challenging profession.

"The unprecedented changes in the role of the school principal require new approaches to professional education for school leaders," said Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean James E. Ryan. "CSML will help principals, at all stages of their preparation and careers, tackle the complex, growing demands on them and the schools they serve. HGSE faculty, in collaboration with talented faculty at HBS and across the university, bring expertise in both education and leadership, enabling the CSML to offer transformative professional education at scale."

HGSE’s and HBS’s new certificate program will equip current and aspiring principals with key management and leadership skills needed to lead and sustain high-performing schools, and prepare them to set and meet high expectations for all children, create conditions for excellent teaching, and engage positively with families and communities. These leaders will have acquired improved capabilities to successfully address the many challenges facing the field of education today — and tomorrow.

This innovative collaboration between HGSE and Harvard Business School integrates best practices from both schools, combining expertise in managing teams and organizations with a commitment to school and instructional leadership. It also builds on HGSE’s and HBS’s proven track record of successful collaboration on the Doctor of Education Leadership Program and Public Education Leadership Project, and will tie together and adapt practical knowledge from the business, education, nonprofit, and government sectors to the specialized needs of principals.

“Leaders of K–12 institutions face daunting administrative and managerial challenges,” said Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria. “This program can provide present and future principals with powerful insights and tools that will help them to navigate the shifting landscape of public education, all using the innovative HBX platform.”

The program will be co-led by faculty members Mary Grassa O’Neill and Allen Grossman. Grassa O’Neill, formerly a school principal and superintendent, is an education expert and director of the School Leadership Program at HGSE. Grossman is an authority on nonprofit and school district management, and a Senior Fellow and retired professor of management practice at HBS. Together, joined by faculty from their respective schools and others across Harvard University, they have created a curriculum to provide a comprehensive, highly-actionable program for current and emerging school leaders.

“I know firsthand the need for rigorous and focused professional development for school leaders. In this innovative program, you will work with both Harvard Ed School and Harvard Business School faculty,” said Grassa O’Neill. “You’ll learn about leading change, leading schools and organizations, leading people, and leading learning. Each course in the program is based on the latest research and includes practical and actionable insights skills and tools you can use in your own school. You’ll interact with a cohort of colleagues to deepen your learning and help you with problem solving. As a current or aspiring school leader, you will be equipped with the skills and competencies you need to effectively turn your school around, take it from good to great or from great to extraordinary.”

The certificate program will comprise four distinct yet interrelated courses, which may be taken individually or completed together to earn a comprehensive certificate. Leading Change, the first to become available, will begin on July 18, 2018. Leading Change will focus on three essentials for school improvement: adaptive leadership, culture, and equity. In this course, participants will learn how to engage and empower others in solving their school’s most challenging problems, craft and communicate a strong vision, actively shape their school culture to support their most important work, and to lead a diverse school community that supports all students in reaching their potential. Other CSML courses in development and to be offered in the future are Leading Schools, Leading People, and Leading Learning.

“When you think about leadership in public education, you soon realize that there are many practices used in business that could be brought to K–12 schools,” said Grossman. “Of course the context is very different, so HBS and HGSE worked together to develop the material for the CSML program. Ideas that help leaders develop and implement strategy, motivate and retain excellent people, and build high-performing teams are critical in education and business for building high performing organizations. To make the material come alive, we are using the case study method, and sharing experiences and knowledge from outstanding school and business leaders from across the country. The program is designed to provide actionable insights to participants, regardless of where they are in their own professional development."

The CSML will be conducted entirely on the innovative, student-centered HBX platform providing a unique online, interactive, and social learning experience where students complete their coursework on their own time while meeting regular deadlines. Participants will also have access to a network of their colleagues and peers to create a community of practice that often lasts beyond the program.

“HBX began as Harvard Business School’s effort to reimagine education for the digital age,” said Patrick Mullane, executive director of HBX. “While we built the HBX platform to deliver case-based business education, we’ve learned in our three years of operation that online learning based on the experiences of practitioners in the field is powerful no matter the sector. We are therefore thrilled to be a part of a program that will help principals and senior administrators improve the performance of their schools and students.”