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CASD administrators complete leadership training

June 16, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

Pa. Education Secretary champions funding

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. -- Chambersburg Area School District administrators hosted Pennsylvania's Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak on Tuesday as they celebrated being the first district to complete National Institute of School Leadership (NSIL) training as a group.

All Pennsylvania principals and administrators are now required to undergo the training over a 30-month period. However, Chambersburg leaders realized that 60 percent of their administrators joined the district within the last three years and decided to undergo condensed NSIL training together in a year and a half.

The training was part of "school improvement" classification when the district didn't score well enough on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment standardized tests. The district spent $250,000 from its Title 1 grants for the NSIL training.

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"We liked that it didn't recommend any one product to go buy," said Chris Bigger, curriculum director.

"Obviously the state realizes the role of principal is important," Assistant Superintendent Eric Michael said, explaining that building principals received a framework for leadership.

Assistant Superintendent Catherine Dusman praised the clear expectations and lessons tailored to the district. Trainers visited the school most months, while other sessions, like the final one on Tuesday, involved computer programs.

Bigger said he has witnessed better leadership in the schools since NSIL started.

Brad Ocker, the assistant principal of 11th grade at Chambersburg Area Senior High School, said NSIL helped him understand leadership styles and how different buildings use resources.

"We did a unit on analyzing and interpreting data. It's knowing how to get the data and break it down, then compare it to other data," Ocker said.

His only regret from NSIL is that he would have appreciated more time for roundtable discussions about issues. On Tuesday, he used a laptop computer to work through problems at a fictional middle school.

"We had to take the school that's kind of like Chambersburg High School and plan an attack," Ocker said, explaining that many of the issues concerned test scores.

Hamilton Heights Elementary School Principal Cynthia Henry said NSIL helped administrators develop a common language.

"It showed us where we stand ranking wise in the world, of course, and the needs globally," she said, talking about Singapore's use of critical thinking and in-depth lessons in the classroom.

Twenty-six Chambersburg administrators participated in the NSIL training.

"It was very relevant," Henry said.

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