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Race, Equity, and Leadership in Schools

3/21/17 to 3/24/17

Tuition: $2,700

Member districts of the Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative: $2,500 per person

Priority Application Deadline: February 13, 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 March 14, 2017

What You Will Learn

“Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” ― Maya Angelou

Leading inclusive schools, where all students are afforded equal opportunities to achieve, requires an understanding of the intersections of race, identity, power, and privilege and calls for strong leaders who have the courage and capacity to engage in thoughtful reflection, conversation, and action within their school communities. Race, Equity, and Leadership in Schools will frame important discussions around why this work matters, offer a historical and cultural context for understanding how inequities play out within our schools and communities, and provide the skills and confidence needed to lead excellent and equitable schools. This program is being offered in conjunction with the 35th anniversary of The Principals’ Center, which throughout its history has supported leaders dedicated to the success of all students.

Program Overview

Race, Equity, and Leadership in Schools will enable you to openly address, through courageous conversations, the role of racism in creating and sustaining educational inequity. This program will give you the strategies to move forward thoughtfully, with a new understanding and positive approach to raising achievement levels for all students. You will return to your schools and districts well prepared to identify and implement concrete strategies for building inclusive institutions while reflecting on personal accountability within your learning environment.

Through this experience, you will be able to recognize and understand structures that perpetuate inequities in education, address assumptions and beliefs about how people learn, and create opportunities for more people to have access to high-quality and effective teaching and learning. You will investigate personal and group accountability and practice positive strategies for effective communication — promoting open dialogue within your schools and increasing teacher, student, and family engagement. You will bring back to your schools and districts a deeper understanding of the history and significance of racism and inequities; the courage and skills to engage in thoughtful conversation about these issues; and the learning derived from exploring these issues with other school leaders from across the country.

Program Objectives
  • Deepen your understanding of why this work on race, equity, and leadership matters and explore the changes needed to ensure a more inclusive future
  • Understand the many causes of individual, institutional, and systemic racial inequality, past and present
  • Identify concrete strategies for building inclusive institutions and build your toolkit to teach it, model it, and practice it
Who Should Attend
  • All K-12 educators interested in deepening their understanding of the intersections of race, identity, power, and privilege in our society and schools
  • School-level teams composed of principals, assistant principals, educators in leadership roles, school administrators, instructional leaders, and teacher leaders
  • Teams composed of school- and district-level leaders
  • Administrators at the state level

Faculty Co-Chairs

Deborah Jewell-Sherman is professor of practice at HGSE. Jewell-Sherman has built a reputation over the past decade as one of the most successful urban district superintendents in the country. She served as superintendent of the Richmond Public Schools in Virginia from 2002 to 2008. In 2009, Jewell-Sherman was named Virginia Superintendent of the Year and, in 2015, received the Morningstar Family Award in recognition of teaching excellence. She has done extensive work in South Africa as the principal investigator for an initiative between HGSE and the University of Johannesburg. She has collaborated with the Qatar Education Foundation on leadership, communication, and strategic planning, and serves as a key faculty member for HGSE’s Doctor of Education Leadership program. Jewell-Sherman currently teaches an HGSE graduate course on Race, Equity, and Leadership along with Mary Grassa O'Neill.

Mary Grassa O’Neill is senior lecturer on education and faculty director of the School Leadership Program at HGSE. Grassa O’Neill is the former Managing Director of Professional Education at HGSE where she was responsible for Pre-k through Higher Education executive education programs that reached more than 6,000 professionals each year on campus and online. Grassa O’Neill is the former Secretary of Education and Superintendent of the Archdiocese of Boston. Centered in of one of the world’s great cities – Boston – and spread across 144 communities in eastern Massachusetts, the Archdiocese of Boston is an ethnically diverse community. In this role she revitalized and reinvigorated education in the second largest school district in the state of Massachusetts. She led 120 schools and was responsible for 42,000 students. Students' academic achievement increased every year of her tenure.

Prior to joining HGSE, she served for 10 years as Superintendent of the Milton Public Schools, and was a teacher, curriculum advisor, principal, and zone superintendent in the Boston Public Schools. She was a founding board member of the Massachusetts School Building Authority where she oversaw $10 billion in school construction projects. She is a member of the Board of Visitors at University of Massachusetts Boston and Lawrence Catholic Academy. Grassa O’Neill holds an Ed.D. in Instructional Leadership from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and has won many honors and awards for her contributions to education. Grassa O’Neill currently teaches an HGSE graduate course on Race, Equity, and Leadership along with Deborah Jewell-Sherman.


Danielle Allen, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and professor in Harvard’s Department of Government and HGSE

Roland Barth, founder of The Principals’ Center

Lisa Lahey, lecturer on education, HGSE

Philip Lee, associate professor of law, University of District of Columbia

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education, HGSE

Karen Mapp, senior lecturer on education, HGSE

Pamela Mason, senior lecturer on education, faculty director of the Language and Literacy Master's Program, and director of the Jeanne Chall Reading Lab, HGSE

Richard Murnane, Juliana W. and William Foss Thompson Research Professor of Education and Society, HGSE

James Ryan, dean of the faculty of education, Charles William Eliot Professor of Education, HGSE

Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita at Spelman College

Irvin Scott, senior lecturer on education, HGSE



Step One
You will be asked to provide your personal profile and organizational 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)


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

  1. A team application to be completed once by the coordinator.

  2. 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.

  • When your coordinator is ready to complete the team application, it can be accessed by continuing to the next page.

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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