A Program for Distinguished Principals
The Cahn Fellows Program for Distinguished Principals at Teachers College, Columbia University is committed to recognizing outstanding principals and providing them with opportunities for professional, intellectual and personal growth. Our goal is to strengthen the public school system by investing in its most effective school leaders.
1 of the 3 deputy chancellors
10% of 1700 sitting NYC principals
17% of NYC's 42 superintendents
Directly benefiting 137,000 schoolchildren in NYC and indirectly strengthening public education for more than 1.1 million children
The Cahn Fellows Program offers public school principals the opportunity to participate in a rich learning experience emphasizing intellectual exchange, reflective practice, and measurable results.
Former Principal of Edward Coles Language Academy, Chicago. Currently Chief of Schools, Network 12, Chicago (2015 Fellow)
The CAHN Fellowship has made a lasting impression on my leadership career particularly because of the outstanding encouragement and motivation from everyone involved. The CAHN Fellowship has given me a new sense of purpose after being principal for eight years at the same school. The professional development has been some of the best I have received throughout my career. From each session, I have gained valuable insight that I have implemented immediately back at my school. The testimonies from fellows and allies provide me a resource bank of effective and proven practices that I have taken back to my school for immediate development and implementation.
Jeff Dase - Chief of Schools, Chief of Schools, Network 12, Chicago
Former principal of Edgebrook Elementary School, Chicago (2016 Fellow). Principal in Residence at Meeting Street Schools, South Carolina
From the quality adult learning, the interaction with outstanding principal across country and the investment in our inquiry projects, The Cahn Fellowship had a significant impact on both my leadership and the academic achievement at my school. It remains one of the most significant learning experiences of my professional career.
Chad Weiden - Principal in Residence at Meeting Street Schools, South Carolina
Principal Mark Twain Middle School, Brooklyn (2014 Fellow)
The Cahn Fellows program is second to none. The opportunity to work directly with the faculty at Columbia was simply the best professional learning I have ever participated in. Educators are always searching for meaningful learning experiences; search no more. This is the program!
Karen Ditolla-Principal Mark Twain Middle School, Brooklyn (2014 Fellow)
Former Principal, PS 69 – Journey Prep, Bronx. Currently Co-Chair of the Harvard Principal Center Advisory Board (2006 Fellow)
The best professional development I received in my 30 years at the DOE. The Cahn Fellows Program assisted me in moving my school from good to great.
Alan Cohen - Co-Chair Harvard Principals' Center Advisory Board
Principal The Renaissance Charter School, Queens, NY (2012 Fellow)
The Cahn Fellowship provided me with not only a high quality adult learning experience with a group of exception teachers and colleagues, but the supports to implement meaningful change in my building. While I was benefiting from all of strategies and skills being taught to me, I was also able to focus on an area in my school that I wanted to see grow and improve. We have, in my opinion, one of the best experiential learning programs in K-12 education and my time as a fellow made this possible.
Stacey Gauthier-Principal, The Renaissance Charter School, Queens, NY (2012 Fellow)
Peter Dillon, Ed.D., Former Principal of the Heritage High School, Manhattan (2005 Fellow). Currently Superintendent of Berkshire Hills Regional School District, Stockbridge, MA
The Cahn Fellows Program was transformative in my growth as an educator and leader. The cohort group, the guided walk at Gettysburg, and the development of our projects all helped me reconsider my role and how I supported others. Specific gleanings and insights from our process impact how I’ve worked to support principals in New York and in my current role in Western Massachusetts. Nel Noddings of Stanford wrote about "who cares for the caregivers?” The Cahn Fellows Program does a great job of caring for, celebrating and growing leaders. I’m both honored and lucky to have grown through the Program.
Peter Dillion - Superintendent of Schools, Berkshire Hills Regional School District, Stockbridge, MA
Principal P.S. 112 Lefferts Park Brooklyn, NY
I had the privilege of being selected for The CAHN Program for Distinguished New York City Principal in 2004. As a principal entering my seventeenth year I can say without hesitation that it was one of the most rewarding professional development opportunities of my career. It enabled me to gain multiple perspectives on leadership and to connect with some of the best principals in our system. The relationships formed during the program have been lasting and have provided me with a life-long “think tank”!
Louise Verdemare- Alfano - Principal
Giulia Cox Principal, MS 118 Bronx, NY
The Cahn Fellows provided me with rich intellectual, practical, and collegial support not just for solving school leadership problems, but for defining them, and for reflecting on my own skills critically within the context of the problem. The Cahn Fellows experience stands alone in my 26 year career as a professional learning experience that had a lasting positive impact on my practice, my results, and my professional relationships. It truly is a model.
Giulia Cox - Principal
Principal, A. Philip Randolph Campus High School, New York City
Throughout my career I have felt that meeting with fellow practitioners, and sharing best practices, has always been the best way of improving my pedagogy. When I was a teacher I valued observing other teachers, when I was an Assistant Principal I observed other Assistant Principals. This model falls away however for Principals. We rarely have an opportunity to take a step back and share best practices with each other in a risk free environment. Our jobs are too political, and we have to be too mindful of the political consequences of admitting any weakness in a public forum.
This program has allowed me, as a Principal, to really listen to a diverse group of excellent leaders discuss both the High Points and the Low Points of their careers, what they did right, what they did wrong, and how they would do it again next time. Principals rarely get to talk to each other on this level, and never in groups as diverse and excellent as the one that the Cahn Fellows has assembled.
David Fanning - Principal
Former Principal of Richard R. Green HS of Teaching, Manhattan (2006 Fellow)
"The Cahn Fellows Program was just what I needed to take my school to the next level!"
-Nigel Pugh, Former Principal of Richard R. Green HS of Teaching, Manhattan (2006 Fellow)
Former Principal of PS 19, Bronx, (2004 Fellow)
"My experience as a 2004 Cahn Fellow has affirmed and broadened my beliefs and practices regarding effective leadership. Interacting with other leaders from within and outside the field of education has been both invigorating and inspiring."
-Michael Schurek, Former Principal of PS 19, Bronx, (2004 Fellow)
Former Principal of the Bronx School for Law, Gov’t & Justice. Currently President and CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation (2003 Fellow)
"My involvement in the Cahn Fellows Program has been professionally satisfying and a lot of fun. It is the most relevant and meaningful experience I've had in education".
-David Banks, Currently President and CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation (2003 Fellow)
Principal, PS 340, Brooklyn, 2004 Cahn Fellow
"The Summer Leadership Institute was the best leadership training experience I have had since becoming a principal eight years ago. It really dealt with the personal and individual qualities of being a leader."
-Principal Gloria Dupree, PS 340, Brooklyn, 2004 Cahn Fellow
Principal of PS 112 - Jose Celso Barbosa, Manhattan (2005 Fellow)
"Nothing compares to the Cahn Fellows Program. It was the first time in 8 ½ years that I was truly inspired and invigorated…I wish every principal in New York City could experience this!"
-Eileen Reiter, Principal of PS 112 - Jose Celso Barbosa, Manhattan (2005 Fellow)
Former Principal, PS 51 – Elias Howe School, Manhattan, (2005 Fellow)
“I feel I have been blessed to be given the time to be a learner to continue my professional growth as a principal and to be able to reflect on my practices to support my staff. It has been an honor to be selected to work with such a diverse and incredible group of principals. Thank you for valuing and validating my work as a principal and treating me as a distinguished professional.”
-Nancy Sing-Bock, Former Principal, PS 51 – Elias Howe School, Manhattan, (2005 Fellow)
Principal Scholars' Academy 2009-2010 Cahn Fellow
The Cahn Fellows launched our school community to the forefront of technology adoption, integration, and learning.
The supportive and insightful workshops that we engaged in directly connected to our leadership work in our schools.
The pressure of a final presentation, coupled with the invaluable feedback that we received from our peer principals, helped each of us overhaul or fine tune some aspect of our respective schools, while also forcing us out of our comfort zones to reignite our passion as leaders of educational change.