A new video (above), produced by Michaela Fray and Anne Cashman at the Regional Office of Education #1, captures the coaching model within the LEAD Project and documents the shift in the coaching model during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The LEAD Project is designed to increase principal effectiveness in areas that lead to improvements in teaching and learning. The project goals include developing effective principals in public and private schools located in rural, suburban, and urban settings that:

  • Increase principal time spent on instruction improvement
  • Improve instructional quality by engaging teachers in an on-going school improvement process
  • Positively impact student learning and school culture, particularly with high-need students

Through the LEAD project, principals receive job-embedded coaching support from LEAD Coaches to implement a school-wide improvement process of cycles of inquiry to address local, student-specific learning problems.  “Although coaching is only one of the key tenets of the LEAD Project, it is one of the components of the project that participating principals have reported valuing the most”, said Dr. Erika Hunt, co-director of the LEAD Project. “The value of LEAD Coaches was tested during the COVID-19 pandemic, with principals reporting using the coaching supports more versus less.”

Kim Dinkheller, director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment for Quincy Public School District, said: “Several of the principals that I talked to said that having that coach during this unique and unprecedented time (COVID-19) was a time when we needed that connection and collaboration most.” Similar sentiments have been reported by principals project-wide and are captured in this video that uniquely captures the project and participation both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The LEAD project is jointly administered by the Center for the Study of Education Policy (CSEP) and the DuPage Regional Office of Education. The project collaborates with four regions in Illinois including Regional Offices of Education (ROE) 1, 17, 19, and 28 in addition to the Andrew M. Greeley Center for Catholic Education at Loyola University and three university education administration departments located at Illinois State University, North Central College, and Western Illinois University. The ROEs serve as LEAD Hubs designed to serve as a regional/local connection point that brings the schools, universities, and communities together. The idea of the LEAD Hub is to attract, place, support, and retain school leaders that are well trained to meet the needs of the whole child within a culturally responsive context that maximizes regional resources, builds regional capacity, and creates a highly successful, sustainable leadership pipeline. Each Hub is staffed with a LEAD Coordinator to help facilitate the work and maximize the outcomes of the LEAD Project.

The LEAD projects are funded by the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) and Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Grant Programs at the United States Department of Education. The LEAD Hub work is supported through funding by the W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation.