The timing couldn’t have been any better. Almost immediately after being named as Belmont Day’s interim lower school head, longtime kindergarten teacher Betty Chu Pryor found a professional development program tailor-made for administrators entering their first year at the helm of a school division—the Divisional Leadership Institute (DLI) offered by the New York State Association of Independent Schools.
“I had looked for such a program in the New England area, but there was nothing similar at this time,” Betty said. She is originally from New York and had taken some courses with NYSAIS in the past so she was on the organization’s mailing list. “When this workshop was posted in one of their e-newsletters, the timing was perfect.”
The institute is cohort-based, with participants all entering their first year as division heads, and works to lessen the “trial-by-fire” aspect of entering what can be a significant new career challenge for educators. The institute started in late June with a retreat and will continue throughout the school year with live workshops and frequent in-person and virtual check-ins.
“So far, we have started self-reflection on what type of leader we are and/or would like to be,” Betty said. “It is so meaningful to do this program with a cohort and to already have a network of support for each other as we embark on our new roles.”
The cohort members also form smaller discussion groups and do partner work. They’re currently reading The Art of Coaching Teams: Building Resilient Teams that Transform Schools by Elena Aguilar.
“My favorite aspect of the program thus far has been meeting with other lower school division heads. It has been helpful to have somebody to bounce ideas off of and colleagues who work with teachers in the same grade bands. I've also loved hearing from those colleagues who teach in urban New York as it is so different from the BDS landscape,” Betty said.
She is looking forward to launching into the new school year and sharing her experiences and what she learns along the way with her colleagues at DLI and here at Belmont Day.
“I cannot wait to see how the year and our leadership capacity evolve for me and others. I have already tapped the resources of this group for advice, possible candidates for job openings, and much more.”