Teacher leadership program gives graduates endorsement by the state

By Tatyanna Carman 

Rider’s teacher leadership program has been granted endorsement by the New Jersey Department of Education to program graduates, a process that “took a few years” according to the Director of the teacher leadership program Judith Stegmaier-Nappi. 

The endorsement was created by the New Jersey Department of Education, however, the state is still developing an assessment for the teacher leadership endorsement despite its approval.

The teacher leadership program was created in 2011 as a result of research that indicated that school administrators could no longer meet the needs of stakeholders by acting alone, according to Stegmaier-Nappi. There are seven courses within the program: creative, ethical teacher leadership, supervisor/teacher leadership for improved instruction and student learning, strategies for curriculum development, innovation and change, assessment of curriculum and instruction to improve the performance of teachers and diverse learners, using research strategies and analysis of data to make decisions in schools, group process in supervision for creative change and collaboration in schools and seminar/practicum in teacher leadership and supervision. 

“The teacher leadership program has enabled teachers to gain the skills necessary to become leaders in many aspects of the school,” said Stegmaier-Nappi. “For example, coaches, professional development, mentors, role models, curriculum experts. Many teachers are interested in taking on some leadership roles while remaining in the classroom.” 

Graduate student in teacher leadership Yuliya Tsypenyuk said that a friend who graduated from the program influenced her decision to pursue this degree and liked that the program could give her the tools and knowledge of how to help within her school district while remaining in a teaching position. She also shared that she was able to dig into data through her leadership class assignments and hearing her classmates discuss their schools and classrooms allowed her to gain ideas that will be adapted to her school. 

“Having to develop growth projects and log numerous leadership hours, I worked with my school’s administration to tackle problems and solutions,” Tsypenyuk said. “I think through this and my leadership hours, my administration has started to see me in a different light and given me more responsibility and leadership within the building. While I often was willing to take on different tasks and roles, I think this program has given me more confidence in my leadership within the school and has led to others seeing me as more of a leader.” 

She shared that she plans on using her graduate degree or leadership endorsement to help her tackle the necessary roles that other districts may have a formal designation for. She also said that earning that endorsement gave her security knowing that if her goals change she will have the endorsement, a supervisor certification and her masters.

“I think the endorsement has been exciting news for people in the teacher leadership program because it offers another formal way of having our leadership skills recognized. Knowing that Rider is among the first schools authorized to grant that endorsement will certainly help prospective students see an even greater appeal to coming to Rider for the teacher leadership program,” she said. 

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