It is impossible to overestimate the importance of excellent leadership in the constantly changing field of education. Successful educational endeavors require effective leadership, whether in charge of a single classroom, school, or district. It is crucial to understand that educational leaders sculpt the present and the future, shaping the minds and characteristics of the next generation, as we traverse the complexity of the twenty-first century.
Leaders as the Lever of Change
"I believe that school leaders are the lever of change that we have to pull in a lot of schools," stated ShaVon Savage, newly hired associate professor of practice, policy, organizational and leadership studies in the College of Education and Human Development. She emphasizes school leaders' critical role in shaping the educational landscape, from the microcosm of individual classrooms to the macrocosm of entire school districts.
Savage highlights the multifaceted nature of school management and leadership, noting that it goes beyond mere instructional leadership. The best school leaders are not just managers of instruction, but also stewards of various critical aspects, including resource allocation, nurturing partnership relationships, enhancing family engagement and fostering professional learning for their staff. School leadership, she asserts, is a complex endeavor that demands an integrated approach encompassing both the educational and administrative spheres.
"I love the idea and the fact that as an educator, you can impact a particular or singular student in a way that no other adult can. And sometimes, we forget that in education, especially now, because people are so overwhelmed, and the landscape is changing so quickly and significantly, but at the same time, kids are at the center. So, when you think about how teachers can impact students, whether children, teenagers, or adult learners, it is not lost on me how important that person can be," said Savage.
"We have to be better about pipelining teachers from the classroom into these school leadership programs and making sure that they are prepared because, at some point, that teacher pipeline issue is going to become a school leadership pipeline issue," added Savage.
The Quest for Successful School Leadership
Savage quickly points out there's room for growth and improvement in preparing future school leaders. Based on emerging research from Education Week, Savage underscores the need to better elevate and support school leadership in preparation programs. This enhancement could include a focus on resource management, community engagement, and a more comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of school administration.
"This is a chance for me to think about and implement how we can remove barriers to good and successful school leadership," Savage shared with determination. Her commitment to ensuring the next generation of school leaders is well-equipped to navigate the ever-evolving educational landscape is palpable.
"Because leadership needs to be flexible. And I think that the most important part of being a leader is flexibility and adaptability. But within the framework of what you can and cannot do, understand your agency, your level of control, who is on your team and how to manage those folks so that we can, as a team, move forward. Leadership is not a solo activity, and it never was," added Savage.
Savage expressed her admiration for Temple students because there is practicality that comes out of the programming. She shared that students who graduate from the College of Education and Human Development programs or get their certifications here have a different level of prowess. "CEHD students are more able to walk into situations and become immediate practitioners. I think a lot of that has to do with the philosophy and the mission of Temple as a university we are seeking, and we look at the individual profiles of students, plan for them, and ensure that we are preparing them for the career paths they choose," added Savage.
A Champion for Education
Savage's journey in education is one of unwavering commitment. Beginning as a classroom teacher in the School District of Philadelphia, she subsequently taught in a charter school before pursuing a law degree. As a school law attorney, she represented many school entities, delving into public finance, civil rights, special education, and employment matters. After her legal career, she returned to education as a district-level administrator, where she supported and supervised special education and student services programs across various settings. Her diverse experience extended to serving as the principal of Henry C. Lea Elementary School in Philadelphia, a university partnership school. She later assumed the role of deputy chief of the Office of Specialized Services, followed by her tenure as deputy superintendent of academic services for the district.
Throughout her various roles, Savage remained committed to supporting the development and preparation of principals and their leadership teams. Her most recent work has honed in on empowering school and district administrators as the catalysts for change in school management and teacher effectiveness.
As a fierce advocate for children, she tirelessly works to ensure that education leaders possess the understanding and skill sets required to serve all children, regardless of their unique needs and backgrounds.
Savage's dedication and insights underscore the critical role of strong and well-prepared leaders in the ever-evolving education landscape. They are, undeniably, the architects of a brighter future for the next generation.