Why SPA?

Why SPA?


SPA graduate students in class at Teachers College

The Teachers College Legacy

Columbia University’s renowned history and its reputation for rigor have resulted in a well-deserved reputation for excellence. Teachers College itself ranks consistently in the top three graduate schools of education in the nation by US News and World Report. We claim a long, proud history of being at the forefront of progressive education and being commitmed to social justice through education.

No Opportunity Cost

Students enrolled in the Summer Principals Academy maintain full-time employment at their sponsoring schools and complete a 450-hour supervised administrative internship during the academic year between Summers I and II. The summer session format allows teacher-leaders to engage in intensive academic study and leadership training without taking a leave of absence from their schools and students and foregoing a year of salary and experience. Additionally, unlike most part-time administrative programs, which can take several years to complete, SPA graduates earn their master’s degree and School Building Leader certification in just 14 months.

PLEASE NOTE: Students should refer to their own state's unique regulations to determine any additional steps or testing requirements for administrative certification.

Investing in the Future

Chelsea Matthews, 2014 Cohort Assistant Principal, Young Men's and Women's Leadership Academy Jacksonville, FL

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The SPA Support Network

Each member of any SPA cohort is an integral part of his/her school community for ten months out of each school year, looked to for inspiration, guidance, leadership, and solutions from students, parents, colleagues, and administrators. For two consecutive summers at Teachers College, these educators are able to step away from their day-to-day responsibilities and immerse themselves in the support of cohort members, instructors, and the SPA team. Each day of classes begins with Self Awareness Training and the invitation to consider self care before readying oneself to care for students and staff. Members of both the academic and greater community invite students to reimagine their beliefs about what schools are and could be in weekly Fireside Chats. Groups practice the art of compromise each Thursday in feedback loops that decide the most efficient use of the remaining weeks of summer. Student-run SPA-light sessions allow students to bask in the glow of their cohort's recognition of their growth.

When students return to their school communities, they meet regularly with a a SPA coach - a local school principal who serves as a thought partner as they think through the decisions and actions that test their development as leaders. Perhaps most importantly, each SPA group benefits from working alongside the preceeding cohort during Summer I, mentoring newcomers during Summer II, and graduating into a network of alumni that spans the country and remains closely tied to the SPA NYC family.

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