Aspiring leaders in Gainesville and Hall County schools have a new outlet to get professional training, thanks to the Gwinnett County Quality-Plus Leader Academy.
"The main purpose of it is to provide leadership support, professional support or development for people that are new leaders or changing their leadership field and for teachers who foresee their leadership certification," Gainesville Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said.
Gwinnett County began the program in 2007 to train aspiring principals, assistant principals and school chairpersons to be able to choose leaders from within the system.
Quality-Plus became the umbrella term for the various training programs in the county. For the first time, leaders in the Gainesville, White County, Hall County and Muscogee County school systems will be able to participate in the Quality-Plus programs.
"We received a grant from the Broad Foundation to help us refine and continue our programs and processes," said Glenn Pethel, executive director of leadership development for Quality-Plus.
"Officials with the Georgia Department of Education and others who were working on Race to the Top became aware of what we were doing in Gwinnett County and they eventually asked us if we would be interested in sharing what we've learned with other districts."
Gainesville City Schools was invited to send employees to the 2011 Summer Leadership Conference in June, which is separate from the Quality-Plus academies but still part of the program.
"They've opened it up to us with no strings attached," said Jamey Moore, director of curriculum and instruction for Gainesville City Schools, who attended the conference. "They've just done an amazing job of wanting to share with us, which is exactly what we need."
Moore said Gwinnett County has a vast amount of resources available to hold these conferences and the 12-month academy programs.
"I think one of the benefits of it to us is the opportunity to collaborate with leaders in other districts so that we can find out what their best practices are and try to replicate them here," said Sarah Bell, director of academic programs and standards for Gainesville City Schools, who also attended the conference.
Pethel said he envisions other districts and higher education institutions that enter Quality-Plus programs will one day adapt it and create their own leadership training based on the Gwinnett model.
"We invited Gainesville City (Schools) to participate in the annual summer conference and they came not just as visitors but as full-fledged participants," Pethel said. "I was very pleased they felt that way."
Gainesville schools do not have a formal leadership development program, Dyer said.
"We have really good retention and we didn't have very many leadership openings. Now that's still the case, but we have more leadership positions within the school," she said. "We have academic coaches, we have grade level and department chairs."
Titia Sargent, the instructional coach at Gainesville Exploration Academy, was one of those leaders who attended the conference.
"With all the changes coming down, such as Race to the Top, we can look to see what is Gwinnett doing that we can do and what is Gainesville City doing that they can do," Sargent said. "We like to do things on our own, but we like to see what we can learn from others and what they can learn from what we do, too."