Friday, June 8, 2007
OU celebrates partnership with Galileo AcademyBy Rebecca Wyatt Thomas, OU Web Writer
Twelve years ago, a consortium of local public school leaders developed the Galileo Leadership Academy to help prepare teachers to be leaders. Once the program was firmly in place, the administrators took it one step further and began inviting local universities to participate and provide insight into the area of teacher leadership. Oakland University enthusiastically set to work to help develop programs and workshops and even made the Educational Specialist program at OU available to Galileo participants. This year, the first cohort from the Galileo Institute, the academy partnership with OU, completed the program and a reception was held to celebrate the program.
Nearly 500 people attended the celebration, held at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Galileo Academy and graduation of the Galileo Institute’s fifth cohort. The program’s 80 participants, including 30 who completed the Educational Specialist program at Oakland University, attended along with member school district administrators, school board members, former Galileo participants and the new Galileo cohort entering this fall.
“A lot of people have a passion for teaching, but don’t have the opportunity to lead,” said Bob Maxfield, assistant professor in Education Leadership. “We are not preparing them to be principals. We are preparing teachers to take on leadership roles. That can be a first grade teacher who brings colleagues together to look at teaching reading to their classes. It can be teachers who look at achievement gaps among students and how to address them.”
Maxfield said the teachers are the best source of information when it comes to teaching their classroom of children. By learning the appropriate leadership skills, they feel empowered to make the decisions and take action. According to Maxfield, it’s more than just educating the teachers, it’s also about preparing the principals and administrators to support teacher leadership and remove the barriers that often get in its way.
For many teachers, Maxfield said, there are many challenges that come along with being a leader. Often they are discouraged by other teachers. Through leadership programs like the Galileo Institute, the teachers learn skills to overcome the challenges and be effective leaders.
Oakland University’s partnership with the Galileo Leadership Academy marked the beginning of the Galileo Institute. The plans for the institute include developing a Web site that contains Podcasts of leadership topics, hosting a two-part conference in August and November, and starting the Master of Education in Teacher Leadership degree program this fall. In addition, a number of doctoral students are taking on research projects involving teacher leadership. A
$50,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has made it possible to hire a part-time director for the project and subsidize the cost of the upcoming conference.
“Oakland University will be seen as the premier place for the advancement of teacher leadership and where all of its dimensions are studied,” Maxfield said. “The most brilliant, effective principal in the world will fail if they don’t enlist the help of their staff. We have to expect more from them then teaching their kids. This program will help prepare the teachers to take on those tasks.”
The Galileo Institute is run out of the Educational Leadership department in the School of Education and Human Services. For more information visit the Educational Leadership Web site. For more information on the new Master of Education in Teacher Leadership, contact Eric Follo at (248) 370-3081 or email@example.com or Pamela Morehead at (248) 370-2491 or firstname.lastname@example.org.