For the last decade, Anika McCants-Brown has taught at Westfield Achievement School. But now she’s ready to take the next step in her career.
Mrs. McCants-Brown was one of the 21 students in this year’s Urban Leadership Development Program.
ULDP is a collaboration between Toledo Public Schools, Toledo Association of Administrative Personnel, and Bowling Green State University that fast-tracks teachers into administrative jobs within the district.
Students earn either a master’s degree in education administration or specialist degree based on their previous academic status. The specialist degree is for those who already hold a master’s degree.
Students take two classes, taught by BGSU professors, every semester for two years. ULDP selectees have a five-year commitment to TPS after completing the program.
Before the program launched, the idea was to recruit and train administrators who could best cater to the needs of an urban school district, said Robert Clark, ULDP coordinator.
“It’s not easy to take somebody that has strictly suburban or rural background and plop them in the middle of an inner-city school,” he said. “It’s better to take an experienced teacher — someone who’s been in the district, understands the basics, and has a proven track record of relating to the students.”
The program started in 1998 and is on its eighth cohort. There have been 142 graduates with roughly 96 percent of the graduates immediately being promoted to an administrative position.
Superintendent Romules Durant is a graduate of the ULDP program. He was a fourth-grade teacher and became an assistant principal after completing the program.
“It was great foresight to recognize the only way we’re going to have a fluid succession plan for administrators leaving the district is to have the ability to have administrators who are well-groomed and ready who are waiting on deck,” he said.
The ULDP has become a competitive program. This year 42 teachers applied, and only 21 were selected.
Another goal of the program is to diversify the administrative ranks of a school district with a majority non-white student population.
Emilio Ramirez, TAAP president and a ULDP board member, said he considers minority representation when selecting prospective students. Mr. Ramirez said the board tries to ensure that 20 percent of each cohort are minorities.
Twenty-three percent of TPS administrators — deans of students, vice principals, and principals — are minorities, he said.
The program is so well respected that suburban school districts often recruit ULDP graduates from TPS after their five-year commitment expires.
ULDP graduates are working as principals in Sylvania, Springfield, Bowling Green, Rossford, and Oregon.
“This program is not just good for TPS, but it’s been good to northwest Ohio,” Mr. Ramirez said.
Ben Cramer, a teacher at DeVeaux Elementary, said with three children at home, it would have been impossible for him to earn his master’s and advance his career without the program.
“It’s great that TPS is taking an interest in growing their own leaders and replenishing those who are retiring,” he said.
Mrs. McCants-Brown said she is both excited and nervous about transitioning out of her teaching role.
“I don’t know what to expect, but I’m ready for the challenge,” she said.
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