The Cahn Fellows Program seeks to improve large urban public school systems nationally by providing distinguished school leaders with advanced professional development and recognition. Our program is designed to increase leadership skills, retention in education and student outcomes.
The Cahn Fellows Program was founded in 2002 as a result of the vision and generosity of Charles & Jane Cahn. The Cahns wanted to do something to recognize excellence in education with the belief that, in recognizing and supporting excellence, we can help an entire system to rise. The Cahn Fellows Program inducted its first cohort of Cahn Fellows into the program in 2003. It is a program that has been specifically designed to support the growth of exemplary school leaders. The Program enables Fellows to become even more effective principals while leveraging their talents to support aspiring school leaders as they choose an Ally who learns alongside them in the yearlong process of growth.
1. School leadership has an enormous impact on student outcomes.
2. The greatest leverage is with high-performing principals.
3. Our investment in principals and aspiring leaders increases retention and leadership pipelines.
If the program-
then we will both extend the retention of the strongest principals in schools and school systems and develop a pool of future leaders, ultimately elevating student learning and achievement.
The Cahn Fellows Program offers high performing public school principals from large urban school districts the opportunity to participate in a rich learning experience emphasizing intellectual exchange, reflective practice, and measurable results.
With proven effectiveness in retaining talented high-performing principals and creating a pipeline of aspiring leaders, this fellowship seeks to strengthen urban public school systems by providing professional, intellectual and personal growth experiences for outstanding principals and teacher leaders.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As a superintendent, TC, as we affectionately refer to this college, was a partner in everything we did, including new approaches to professional development and teaching students with disabilities. And as a deputy chancellor, I saw the birth of the Cahn Fellows and had the privilege of sitting on its board.
The Cahn Fellowship created for me a brave space where I could share reflections on my successes and failures with colleagues. I was given the space to stop, reflect, and breathe so I can get better for our students, staff, and families.
The Cahn Fellows Program creates a space for school leaders to grow and learn from top experts so they continue to drive change in their communities throughout Chicago.
Where do I start? Do I start with the impact The Cahn Fellowship has had on my professional life or how it has changed my personal outlook on my work and my mission to serve my community? Let’s start with my personal growth, after all, that ultimately impacted my professional growth. Initially, I thought the program targeted my leadership as the priority, when in reality, the lessons I learned about myself ultimately changed my view of leadership. I have to admit, I hate examining what makes me tick, but I did it this year. I moved away from my task-oriented self to see a bigger picture, to take time to understand others, their styles, their needs; to look at my actions and their influence on people and systems. Additionally, I have found the supportive nature of our group to be truly energizing. To be among professionals who manage Twenty-First Century educational issues with positivity and fortitude has been the best part of this program. We are comrades: we trust each other; we admire and respect each other; we inspire each other. The Cahn Fellowship was the best professional growth opportunity I’ve had. I’m a more relaxed person and a more visionary leader.
Harvey Firestone once said “Growth and development is the highest calling of leadership.” I have always believed that to be true, but my experience with the Cahn Fellowship for Distinguished Principals has been a living example of this quote. It has enhanced my growth and development as a leader but also expanded my capacity to grow and develop others. With deep exploration into systems thinking and change management, adult development and learning, and the importance of self-care, my thoughts and abilities were expanded and allowed me to work with my team to begin to put systems in place that will expand all of our capacity to make better experiences and outcomes for our students. Another powerful aspect to the Cahn Fellowship is the networking, being able to share with and visit other distinguished principals from across the country was among the most impactful experiences I had. The time shared with the other principals afforded me the opportunity to see and learn more than I would have been able to do alone, which in the end embodies the true definition of fellowship; to work, learn and have experiences with those of like mind. I am proud to say I have done just that.
Priceless! Phenomenal! Exhilarating! The Cahn Fellowship brings together distinguished and humanistic principals to participate in a yearlong world-class leadership program. From the moment I arrived at Teachers College, to our journey to Gettysburg, and at every session I attended, the excitement and the learning was, well…Cahn-stoppable! Gaining new understandings and insights about the principalship with top-notch professors and presenters has revolutionized my role as a school leader. The Cahn experience is a must for all school leaders looking to invigorate, renovate and rekindle their passion and commitment to the most important job in the world, impacting students’ lives!
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.
My experience as a Cahn Fellow has directed my project focus on student engagement and 21st century skills. This has encouraged students to collaborate as a team, enhancing their creativity and imagination, which has heightened their problem solving and critical thinking abilities. The Cahn Fellowship has given me the foundation to explore other educational paradigms. It has enriched my current leadership abilities by providing an environment in which innovative ideas can be shared with both current and former Fellows.
The Cahn Fellowship has given me the rare opportunity to analyze and dig deep into my strengths and weaknesses/growth areas as a leader. Through professional development, collegial relationships that have been developed, and deep dive into personal action based inquiry projects, I am learning how to become a better and stronger leader for my school, staff, students and community, optimizing with purpose on my strengths and improving my areas of growth.
The program was a turn around experience for me. It helped me reflect and rethink who I was as a leader, how I needed to change and, how to go about what I needed to do. My Cahn advisor supported me in analyzing the structures I had in place to insure that they were sustainable. I grew as a leader and I felt it brought passion back into my work. This program helped me recognize the reasons I became an educator. For the past three years I have been a Cahn Alumni Advisor so that I can support other colleagues and continue growing as a leader. Thank you Cahn Fellows Program.
The Cahn Fellows program strengthened me as an individual and a leader. After 24 years in public education, it was unquestionably the most impactful professional development. I will rely on the reflective practices we utilized for the remainder of my professional career. The Cahn Fellows program supported my development by identifying my focus areas and requiring me to concentrate efforts on how to impact all our school's stakeholders. I have developed genuine professional and personal relationships with dynamic leaders across the nation. I am honored and blessed to be a part of this journey and will forever be indebted to Chuck Cahn for his visionary leadership and incredible support of school principals.
The Cahn Fellows Program could not have come into my life at a more crucial juncture than when it did. I have grown personally and professionally, having experienced a leadership maturation journey second to none. The opportunity to learn from gifted professors and lean on the collective wisdom of a cadre of courageous public school leaders from across the nation has been invaluable. Cahn’s gift of collaboration and celebration with venerated principals will remain my prized possession. The Cahn Fellows Program afforded me the space to gain foresight, hindsight and insight into the leadership skills necessary to transform the educational experiences for future generations. “Unforgettable in every way.”
The biggest threat to the success the Texas economy has enjoyed is our relatively poor education system - Cahn Fellows helps train and revitalize the best principals in our school systems- it’s the element to the improvement we need to make in our schools - our children deserve it and our business community must have it to continue to succeed.