Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) has been awarded a grant from the Wallace Foundation worth up to $8.2 million over five years to help develop and support equity-centered school leaders, the school district announced Wednesday, and Spalding University’s College of Education will be a partner in training those leaders.

JCPS was one of only eight districts nationally awarded funds from the Wallace Foundation’s Equity Centered Pipeline Initiative. The grant will provide professional learning opportunities, mentorship and programming to strengthen the leadership pipeline for school principals with a focus on equity.

“This grant offers us the tremendous opportunity to develop and support principal candidates ‘on the bench’ as well as those new to their positions,” JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said. “We know that effective principals have a strong, positive influence on students and schools, impacting student achievement across an entire school. Having a comprehensive, aligned principal pipeline will produce  leaders who can help bring our district’s vision of equity to fruition.”

As it relates to Spalding, the Wallace grant will support the College of Education’s JCPS-focused Aspiring Leaders principal preparation program, which launched in 2020-21 and is now on its second cohort.

JCPS will receive $1.79 million in each of the first two years of the grant. If the grants are successfully renewed in years 3-5, the district would receive a total of $8.2 million.

Funding from the grant will create the Jefferson County Leadership Academy (JCLA), which will offer aspiring administrators workshops and programming to introduce them to the duties and expectations of an assistant principal and principal, along with mentoring and internship opportunities. In addition, JCLA will provide executive coaching sessions for current administrators.

*Overview | BS in Education | MA in Teaching | MEd in Teacher Leadership | MEd in Instructional Leadership | MA in School Counseling | EdD: Leadership | Rank I Certification
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* Related | JCPS Aspiring Leaders providing ‘invaluable’ training to future principals

JCPS will partner with Spalding, the University of Louisville and the Kentucky Department of Education to provide certification programs, professional development and mentoring based on equity-centered leadership to new and aspiring principals.

“Spalding University and its College of Education are proud to be partners with JCPS in developing equity-centered leaders in our public schools, and we are grateful for the Wallace Foundation for investing in this meaningful work,” Spalding President Tori Murden McClure said. “The grant from the Wallace Foundation will support ongoing work to further embed equity-centered leadership within all aspects of Spalding’s Aspiring Leaders principal preparation program, including its curriculum, assessments and clinical field experiences. This work goes hand in hand with the Spalding mission of compassion and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

In addition, Spalding is continuing work with the JCPS Diversity, Equity, and Poverty Division to refine a leadership equity screener that requires Aspring Leaders candidates to reflect on and demonstrate equity-centered leadership. The Spalding School of Social Work will also be providing cultural humility training for the Aspiring Leaders candidates with an emphasis on restorative practices and leadership, said Dr. Glenn Baete, Director of Advanced Programs in the College of Education.

“Through our collaboration with JCPS to provide the Aspiring Leaders Program to JCPS teacher leaders seeking administrative certification, the College of Education is committed to developing equity-centered learners,” Baete said. “The Wallace Foundation grant will help us deepen and accelerate that work.”

The Wallace Foundation works nationally to foster equity and improvements in learning and enrichment for young people, and in the arts for everyone.

“Spalding University’s College of Education is excited for the opportunity to work in partnership with so many wonderful local, state and national groups to strengthen P-12 school leadership for the ultimate benefit of children in Louisville,” said Dr. Kristen Harris, Chair of the School of Education.

Video from March 2020, announcing Spalding-JCPS Aspiring Leaders program:

Spalding will celebrate graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 during Commencement, June 3-5, 2021. In the leadup, Spalding is featuring graduates from a range of academic programs. Today’s featured graduate is Felicia Graham, who is earning the degree of Master of Education in Instructional Leadership as part of the first cohort of Spalding’s Aspiring Leaders principal preparation program with Jefferson County Public Schools. Graham is a third-grade teacher at JCPS’s Dunn Elementary School. 

How do you feel about your accomplishment of completing your degree and graduating?

There are not enough words to accurately describe how I feel about completing my program and graduating, especially during a pandemic. I feel so much pride and joy in my dedication to finish this commitment. Spalding certainly prepared me for my next step in my career.  I am excited to know what my future holds after completing this milestone!

What was it like to finish your degree during the pandemic? 

It was extremely difficult to balance work, school and other commitments. Truly, I contemplated stopping and pursuing this opportunity at another time. However, I was able to prioritize my responsibilities to make it easier to embrace all of my roles that I maintain on a daily basis. In addition, my cohort members and instructors were a great support system that helped me along my journey. I found out what I was truly made of. I pushed myself to new limits and accomplished my goal of completing my degree and graduating.

SPALDING COLLEGE OF EDUCATION | Overview of all bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral programs
JCPS ASPIRING LEADERS PRINCIPAL PREP | Spring 2020 press release | Fall 2020 update

What is something specifically about your academic program that you liked or that stands out about Spalding’s program/system that may not be the case at another school? 

I liked the hybrid format offered by Spalding because of the flexibility we had in attending both online and in-person classes. I also loved how personable my instructors were. If I needed any assistance, they were readily available at any time. Most importantly, my academic program was an established partnership with the local school system, Jefferson County Public Schools. It was amazing and so powerful to have guest speakers from the district because it made the work that I will be doing very realistic! It was so powerful to hear and learn from local leaders who are experts at their positions for the district I work for. The commitment of Spalding to the community is evident as they are preparing future leaders to lead and improve issues faced in schools. I feel these reasons support why Spalding was the perfect fit for me.

SPALDING COMMENCEMENT | 2021 schedule and information

Describe something you have done or accomplished at Spalding that you are proud of:

Receiving my degree is the best accomplishment that I am most proud of at Spalding. I am a proud alumna and look forward to supporting the school in any way possible in the future. I would like to continue to see Spalding work more with the schools in the community.

What does it mean to you to become a graduate of Spalding University? What do you think you will take with you from your time at Spalding that will serve you well in your career or life?

Being a graduate of Spalding is one accomplishment that I am very proud of! Out of all of my degrees, this one feels different because it was very relatable to the career I am pursuing currently. I grew more as an individual and enjoyed learning so much from people who are acutely aware of what it takes to be an effective administrator. By Spalding incorporating local guest speakers along with readings help make the learning so personable for me. With my degree from Spalding, I know that I will be able to take what I have learned and apply to become a leader of change in Jefferson County Public Schools and also positively affect our communities.

What are some of your favorite aspects and favorite memories bout attending Spalding? 

My favorite memories will be all of my instructors that I had this year:  Dr. Glenn Baete, Mr. Kirk Lattimore, and Dr. Tracy Barber. They were all very passionate about educating aspiring leaders and sharing valuable lessons that they learned from their experiences. They are still active and aware of the needs of the district, and they truly take pride in sharing their knowledge and helping to prepare others to continue the necessary work to create equitable, high-performing schools. In addition, it was an honor to have my principal, Dr. Barber, to encourage and support me throughout my graduate education and also apply my learning experience at our school. She is a great leader who is dedicated to helping others thrive and succeed!

What is something personal about your journey to graduating from Spalding that people may not know but that you’d like to share and that you are proud of? 

In graduating from Spalding, I was able to overcome my negative experiences that I have had relating to racism and equity and actually pursue a career in which I can attempt to change this for others. Students need a school leader who believes in the potential for all students to be successful while doing whatever it takes to provide equitable opportunities to guide and assist them throughout their education. I am so passionate about this work that is needed to make our communities better while creating influential and successful citizens. I am so grateful that Spalding believes and supports making the necessary changes to make the world a better place for all people to be accepted and live in.

Share some information about academic work and capstone project.

My group and I were so honored to present our Capstone project to Dr. Barber and Mr. Lattimore. It was a great culminating activity that encompassed everything we learned. We were able to apply our knowledge while analyzing a Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP), which is actually the work of a school leader. It was very relatable and a great experience to actually lead the work as if we were administrators. This opportunity also provided ways for us to prioritize, collaborate, guide and lead others, just as we would have to do if we were a principal. Presenting this project allowed for us to work on our public speaking skills while creating an engaging presentation to accommodate the research we conducted. It was a great and useful learning experience!

What are your next steps with this degree?

My next step is to pursue a job as an assistant principal or seek other leadership opportunities within the district. Eventually, I can see myself attending Spalding to seek a Doctorate of Education in Leadership.

Faculty Focus Friday is a Q&A series that highlights individual faculty members in various academic programs around Spalding University. This week’s featured faculty member is Dr. Glenn Baete, Assistant Professor in the College of Education who serves as the Director of Advanced Programs such as the JCPS Aspiring Leaders Principal Certification Program and the Master of School Guidance Counseling program. He teaches in the principal prep and Doctor of Education (EdD): Leadership programs. Dr. Baete recently retired from Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS), where he served 27 years as Assistant Superintendent, Principal (Doss High School), Assistant Principal and teacher. He also served a term as Interim Chief Operations Officer. Dr. Baete holds three degrees from the University of Louisville – a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s in secondary education and an EdD in educational leadership and organizational development. 

What do you like about working and teaching at Spalding? 

Spalding University has a rich tradition in preparing educators and school leaders, and I enjoy furthering the University’s mission in these areas. My role as the Director of Advanced Programs has allowed me to develop partnerships with local school districts to assist with advancing their academic priorities while promoting the University. But most importantly, my first job (ever) was teaching, and I enjoy working with school principal candidates and preparing them for leadership opportunities.

I also serve as a chair or committee member for Spalding EdD students and love helping our students examine research topics that add to the knowledge base and have implications at the local, state and national levels.

What is your academic specialty, areas of expertise or research? 

My research background is in school transformation and reform, academic system development, and school and district relationships. I have published research regarding differentiated leadership, standards-based approaches to teaching and grading, and developing district-wide systems to support instructional innovation.  As a practitioner, I assisted with the development of the JCPS Six Essential Systems for a Strong Learning Environment that is currently used across all schools in the JCPS District.

Update | Program providing ‘invaluable’ training to future district principals

News Release | McClure, Pollio announce partnership for JCPS-specific MEd 

Why are the College of Educations programs in which you teach a good option for students to consider? 

The College of Education has outstanding advanced programs for individuals seeking to become school leaders.  Our School Counseling and Principal Preparation programs are taught by individuals with a great deal of experience with school leadership, and our adjunct faculty currently serve in school, district and state leadership positions. Most importantly, all programs in the College of Education combine a strong instructional foundation with relevant and current practical clinical experiences that have been developed alongside leaders in JCPS and other surrounding school districts.

What is an example of a discussion topic, lecture, assignment, project, etc. in your class that you enjoy presenting or working with students on and that they have found engaging? 

Leaders in all areas, including education, often have to examine and address issues through four distinct lenses (structural, human resource, political and symbolic). Many times, these lenses come in conflict with one another, and leaders have to grapple with how one decision impacts one frame positively while having alternate impacts on others.  We spend a great deal of time examining school-based leadership issues through these frames through case studies, simulations and interviews and understanding the importance of strong leadership to navigate challenging situations.

COLLEGE OF EDUCATION OVERVIEW | All Spalding bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs 

What is an interesting thing you have in your office? 

Since I am doing most of my work virtually, my two most interesting items in my office are my two dogs – Chandler Bing (a Cockapoo) and Penny (a Goldendoodle).

Spalding’s mission is to meet the needs of the times, to emphasize service and to promote peace and justice. What is an example of how your teaching style, your research, your class or your curriculum is supporting the mission of Spalding? 

As part of the Principal Preparation Program’s work with the JCPS Aspiring Leaders cohort, we have placed the district’s Racial Equity pillar “front and center” as we discuss and develop candidate’s skills and dispositions regarding teaching and learning; human resource, community, and organizational development; and reflection regarding issues surrounding race. Our candidates will complete a portfolio of artifacts that align with the tenets of the JCPS Racial Equity Pillar and ensure that will be used to determine their readiness to serve as leaders in our commonwealth’s most diverse school district.

FACULTY FOCUS FRIDAY ARCHIVE | Read all our professor Q&A’s

As the country celebrates the leadership and influence of school principals during National Principals Month in October, graduate students in Spalding University’s new principal preparation partnership program with Jefferson County Public Schools said they are receiving valuable training on how to manage real issues facing principals in Louisville schools.

The inaugural 19-member cohort of Spalding’s JCPS Aspiring Leaders Principal Certification Program recently spread out in the Dunn Elementary School cafeteria for a socially distant, masked-up class titled Leading Teaching and Learning, taught by Dunn Principal Dr. Tracy Barber. Guest speakers explaining JCPS diversity and equity policy Zoomed in on a projector screen as the students – who are all JCPS teachers and employees, themselves – took notes and asked questions.

It was a session that typified the Aspiring Leaders experience – with an actual JCPS principal and actual JCPS administrators and staff leading dialogue and teaching curriculum designed specifically for future JCPS principals.

Aspiring Leaders student Mario Ransan, a social studies teacher at the Phoenix School of Discovery, said he became interested in the Spalding program upon hearing “who you’re learning from and the sheer amount of experience that they have.”

To that point, Ransan said, the very first meeting of one of his classes included an hour-long guest lecture from JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio.

“That was Day 1, and that was huge,” Ransan said. “Every other class has been just like that. We meet everybody that we’ll need to know for the district. Plus other principals and vice principals. It’s just invaluable. This is legit. To be able to sit down with real principals and ask real questions and get real answers has been huge.”

Ransan said he has enjoyed learning from Barber, who routinely shares real issues she’s dealt with and explains how she handled them.

“The reality is that schools must change fundamentally,” said Barber, who earned her Doctorate of Education (EdD) in Leadership from Spalding. “Before we can redesign schools, we must redesign the programs that prepare school leaders. Tapping potential leaders in JCPS with demonstrated knowledge of curriculum and instruction and then planning quality school leadership growth opportunities is what Spalding University has developed in the Aspiring Leaders program.  This diverse group of future school leaders are engaged in the critical work of acquiring skills needed to build higher performing, equitable schools for our community.”

Graduates from the yearlong program will earn the degree of Master of Education in Instructional Leadership: Principal Preparation, and be positioned for a Level I Kentucky Principal Certification and, depending on the individual’s previous education, either a Rank I or Rank II Kentucky Teacher Certification.

The hybrid online/in-person program within Spalding’s College of Education is directed by Assistant Professor Dr. Glenn Baete, a retired JCPS assistant superintendent and former principal at Doss High School.

Ransan, who also earned his master’s in teaching from Spalding, said that Baete has been accessible via texts and calls whenever he’s needed him with questions about assignments. Another Aspiring Leaders student, Torri Martin, who teaches eighth-grade math at the J. Graham Brown School, said Baete is understanding and flexible about the demands the cohort members face as working professionals.

“They have made it very, very easy for a working adult to get a graduate-level degree,” she said.

COLLEGE OF EDUCATION OVERVIEW | All Spalding bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs 

Martin said the collaboration between Spalding and JCPS to design a program that is tailored to the needs of the local school system is “very, very special.”

Learning about “the reality of what it’s like day to day in the schools has been invaluable,” Martin said. “Hearing from Dr. Barber about what she would do in certain situations and her vast experience, I couldn’t get that anywhere else.”

The 30-credit hour Aspiring Leaders program is open to JCPS employees with a Kentucky teaching certificate and at least three years of teaching experience and a bachelor’s or master’s degree with a 2.75 GPA.

The Spalding master’s curriculum is unique in that it has been tailored directly for the JCPS system and will be presented through the lens of JCPS’ three institutional pillars – a Backpack of Success Skills, Racial Equity, and Climate and Culture.

Pollio and Spalding President Tori Murden McClure held a news conference in March to announce the Aspiring Leaders program, just before the pandemic.

The first cohort began meeting virtually in July and has held weekly in-person meetings this fall.

For more information, contact Dr. Baete at [email protected].

Watch a video from the March introductory news conference