All Districts – Educators who want to strengthen their leadership skills within a framework of educational equity will have an opportunity to begin that deep dive this spring.
The West Michigan Leadership Academy is accepting applications through the end of day on Friday, Feb. 19 for its School Leader Fellowship program, a three-year program of professional learning and leadership coaching. The program began in 2018 in five area school districts, and three cohorts of school leaders are currently participating.
For its next cohort, the academy is expanding the program to include leaders who currently work in any school or district within Kent ISD.
“Professionally, as a school administrator, the experience I have had with WMLA has allowed me to learn and experience like never before,” said Brad Lundvick, principal of C.A. Frost Middle High School and John Ball Park Zoo School. Lundvick is currently in cohort 2 of the fellowship program.
“The discussions with other school administrators about race, equity and inclusion that occur in the world, and how that impacts how we operate as educators, give a whole new lens to what we view as being successful to all of our students and families we help and serve,” he said.
The School Leader Fellowship program focuses on “culturally responsive antiracism leadership training” for educators, said Director Abbie Groff-Blaszak. Its goal is to empower leaders to confront systemic inequities in order to achieve equitable outcomes for all students.
During the first year, participants attend several professional learning sessions with their cohort peers. They are also matched with a leadership coach who will support them throughout the program.
Lundvick said he was drawn to the program as someone who always felt he should do more to boost equality, but didn’t know how. Although as a child he was taught to treat everyone with respect, he said the idea of “white privilege” or what that meant for him as a Caucasian boy didn’t come up.
“Through WMLA, I have now begun to think back on my own upbringing and what I was privileged to that others were not,” he said. “From being able to engage in conversations about the history of race in my communities to hearing personal stories of others about their own racial identities in my cohort, it has allowed me to learn more perspectives and truths than what I thought I understood.
“Listening to an experience of someone who does not look like me, or lived a similar life as I have, can be life-changing.”
Since becoming a WMLA Fellow, Lundvick said he’s had “multiple, deep discussions” with colleagues at his school on the topics of equity, inclusion and social justice. Building on the idea that this will be “a movement, not a moment” – that it will be something they always continue working on – they’re determining the best ways to improve and encourage these three concepts within the school community.
“I view myself now as someone who can take what WMLA, and my cohort, has exposed me to and share (what I’ve learned) with those who have not been made aware,” he said.