Fredonia combines school leadership instruction into unique online program

Roger Coda

School leadership training at Fredonia has been redesigned to create a single direct path for educators already working in K-12 school districts to attain advanced certifications that lead to becoming a school building principal and school district superintendent.

Christine Givner, founding dean of Fredonia’s College of Education, indicated the new Educational Administration program – taught completely online – consolidates Fredonia’s former Certificates of Advanced Study in School Building Leadership and School District Leadership programs.

Read more about the program and apply

This redesigned program aligns with all current professional benchmarks, including National Educational Leadership Preparation standards and Professional Standards for Educational Leaders, which New York state has adopted, explained Associate Professor Cindy Bird. Approval of Fredonia’s first fully online program has been granted by both SUNY and the New York State Education Department.

“We reviewed and analyzed the two programs in the context of the new standards, working with school partners in K-12 leadership in the region,” Dr. Givner explained. Superintendents in Chautauqua County and administrators in Erie 2: Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES provided input during the comprehensive, 2-1/2 year self-study and re-envisioning led by leaders in the College of Education.

The new program consists of 30 credit hours of course work including a one-year internship in the candidate’s home school district. Candidates enrolled full-time can complete the program in two years. A new feature of this Educational Leadership program is providing mentor training to those current educational administrators who will serve as mentors to candidates during their district-based internship.

A review of best practices literature and the latest research on internships and mentoring for educational leaders was also part of Fredonia’s self-study that produced the consolidated educational leadership program.

“The impetus for the self-study was based in part on external factors as well as our own continuous improvement efforts to better meet regional and state education preparation needs,” according Givner, as well as making a better pathway for current educators to pursue administrative positions.

“We found that our candidates who pursued one certification ended up pursuing both, so this single program combines preparation for both certifications in a coherent fashion,” Givner said. “It’s totally online, so we’re using technology for powerful learning that is customized to meet the needs of working professionals. They can engage in their course work around their work schedules.”

Dr. Bird added, “A strong feature of this program is that it’s online, which makes it much more convenient for students who are working professionals. They don’t have to travel; they have direct access to instructors through emails and video conferencing.”

Dr. Bird added, “A strong feature of this program is that it’s online, which makes it much more convenient for students who are working professionals. They don’t have to travel; they have direct access to instructors through emails and video conferencing.”

An introductory course to be offered during the summer leads to the formal start of the leadership program in September. The summer course is open to everyone, so current teachers who may have an interest in becoming administrators will have a chance to find out if they really would enjoy a career in school administration, Bird explained.

Givner anticipates an opening cohort of 25 full-time students – a significant increase over enrollments in the separate school building and school district leadership programs that were suspended in 2017.

Admission requirements include two letters of recommendation from school administrators in the candidate’s home district, a master’s degree and three years of successful teaching.

“What I like about it is that it’s cutting edge, aligned with the brand new standards. It’s much more practice-based, which is what leaders in the field have been asking for, and is clinically rich,” Givner explained. It is truly a partnership between the College of Education and educational leaders, she added.

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