Sonoma County Office of Education

21st Century CA School Leadership Academy grant press release

06/29/2020 -

School leaders from Sonoma, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, and Napa counties will soon have access to expanded high-quality professional development opportunities thanks to a $3.4 million federal grant awarded to the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) in collaboration with the University of Washington’s Center for Educational Leadership (CEL). This grant will allow SCOE to build on existing work done in partnership with CEL over the last three years to support local educational leadership.

Over the next three years, The 21st Century California School Leadership Academy (21CSLA) will offer coaching, mentoring, and support to aspiring school leaders, with a focus on how leadership can directly impact student learning.

The highly competitive grant is designed to develop a new generation of principals who are strong leaders, committed to high standards and a school-wide vision to serve all students.

SCOE was one of seven 21CSLA awardees announced by the California Department of Education on June 22.

Dr. Steve Herrington, Sonoma County superintendent of schools, said “We are proud to receive this competitive grant which will support building leadership capacity in the North Coast school community. It’s a testament to the hard work of our educational leadership team at SCOE.”

The 21CSLA grant will offer professional learning opportunities to leaders to build their understanding of what high-quality instruction looks like, establish a shared language for high-quality instructional practice, and actively sponsor teacher’s and leader’s professional growth in high-quality instruction and engaging student experiences. SCOE will work with CEL to build leadership capacity throughout school systems: Central office leaders, principals, and teacher leaders across Marin, Napa, Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino counties.

Through data, reflections, and feedback, The 21CSLA program will utilize CEL’s approach to professional learning to:

  • Use research-based frameworks to allow leaders to establish a shared vision and language by linking research to practice.
  • Do side-by-side partnerships with leaders closest to the impact they seek to create, enabling understanding of root causes and shared tracking of progress.
  • Contextualize practice by listening to what leaders are trying to accomplish and then provide supports that match the needs of specific students and schools.
  • Take a strengths-based position to honor the existing experiences and expertise in this work while diminishing the potential to create cultures of compliance.
  • Adopt an inquiry-based approach where curiosity surfaces diverse perspectives, while authentic questioning increases meaningful engagement and ownership of learning.
  • Grow a learning culture that is social and enhanced when leaders value the expertise present in a group and form a shared community.

Participants in 21CSLA will be supported in understanding how their leadership can directly impact student learning. This relationship is critical for addressing inequitable outcomes for low-income students and students of color. CEL’s approach compels educational leaders to see how their performance can make a difference for students that are the least well served.