YES Prep provides professional growth and development opportunities for all team members– no matter their role or years of experience in the organization. So how does YES Prep develop its most senior campus leaders, the School Directors?
Head of Schools, Jeremy Beard, reported that the School Directors are broken into three cohorts of five and engage in small group, collaborative learning. The goal is for the cohort to visit each of the members’ schools by the end of the semester. The hosting School Director works with his/her Head of Schools to develop a focus for the visit– something he/she wants the other members of the cohort to look for and provide feedback on. During the school visits, the cohort spends half the day observing classrooms and talking with teachers and students. Then, the cohort debriefs on the campus’s priorities, goals, demographics, wins, and recent challenges.
Jeremy Jones, School Director of YES Prep Northbrook Middle School, is looking forward to hosting his cohort at his campus this week. His focus for the school visit is literacy: “Our goal as a campus is to make sure that students leave us in 8th grade as proficient readers, so our school visit is going to be a sort of literacy audit.” Jones planned the visit with the principal of his partner school, Northbrook Middle School, because they share a similar demographic and face similar literacy challenges. “This visit of YES Prep School Directors will not only impact 450 YES Prep students here, but the 600 students downstairs [in Northbrook Middle School] as well,” Jones said.
“This visit of YES Prep School Directors will not only impact the 450 YES Prep students here, but the 600 students downstairs [in Northbrook Middle School] as well.”
Visiting School Directors also benefit from the school visit. “I can lose sight of what is happening on other campuses, but we have similar struggles. [The visits] give me perspective and help me feel united with the other School Directors and with the greater YES Prep mission,” Jones stated. Additionally, he reported that they offer him the chance to plan for the long-term: “At Brays Oaks, we had a great conversation about teacher duties and responsibilities that gave me insight into what I’m thinking about for next year.”
School Directors not only engage in school visits and collaborative learning, but they also have professional development sessions once a month during Content Days and are working with FuelEd to continue to develop their leadership practices. Additionally, Heads of Schools, like Beard, coach School Directors one-on-one and differentiate coaching based on the School Directors’ needs.
Beard and the other Heads of Schools are collecting feedback on this year’s professional development and will take into consideration the feedback, along with next year’s campus goals and drivers, in planning future professional development. Jones looks forward to developing a collaborative relationship with a new cohort next year. The support from fellow School Directors and his Head of Schools is the primary reason Jones works at YES, after experiences with other charters and educational organizations. “I knew I was going to have the support I needed to be successful here,” he stated.