Project Lead’s School Leadership Institute is a collaboration between school districts in the Greater Merrimack Valley and the UMass Lowell College of Education. Since its inception, the collaboration has included the Lowell, Billerica and Methuen Public Schools; more recently, the Institute expanded to include the Woburn and Chelmsford Public Schools as well. 

Designed to build principal leadership capacity within school districts, participants in the School Leadership Institute experience highly relevant/context-specific professional development through collegial, community of practice support. Each year, the Institute focuses on developing skills related to a critical aspect of school leadership.

Who Participates?

Participants in the School Leadership Institute include newly appointed principals and assistant principals who are looking to move into the principal role, as well other new school and district personnel who are in formal leadership roles. Faculty from the UMass Lowell College of Education (Leadership in Schooling program) work alongside mentor principals to plan and deliver professional development in five, four-hour work sessions. 

The Institute’s mentor principals—Liam Skinner (Lowell Public Schools) and Kwesi Moody (Methuen Public Schools)—were selected for the role based on their demonstrated capacity to lead effectively at the school and district levels. Funding for materials needed in the five sessions of the Institute and for the support of mentor principals is provided through the College of Education and the participating districts.

How Does it Work?

The School Leadership Institute runs over the course of the school year, with sessions held on Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon in September, October, December, January and March. The Institute leadership team works closely with district-level administrators to establish dates that do not conflict with their own events and to ensure that participants are supported in their efforts to attend each session. 

Between sessions, individuals are expected to spend roughly two to three hours engaging in independent activities that will enable their full participation in the work. For example, participants may be asked to read a short article or case, respond to an issue-based prompt, and/or reflect on and write about their own practice.

Chosen Must Commit

In past years, 25 individuals were selected to participate. Those who were selected committed to attending every session and to adequately preparing for the work that happened during sessions. Along with high-quality opportunities to develop and refine leadership knowledge and skill, participants received 20 professional development points for their work in the Institute.

Seats in SLI are limited and the selection process is competitive. If you are selected, but feel you will not be able to attend all sessions or prepare between sessions, please do not commit to the Institute. Contact your district administrator or Stacy Szczesiul if you have questions about committing to the Institute. (Note: The application/selection process varies by district.)