There are several ongoing efforts across New Mexico aimed at increasing the pipeline of people interested in becoming teachers, and developing opportunities for them to advance into leadership positions, like a principal or superintendent.
The Legislative Education Study Committee convened on July 28 to hear from experts involved in teacher leadership initiatives that emphasize real-world school experiences and continuous professional development. State legislators heard from Emily Hoxie, a Senior Policy Analyst at LESC, Russ Romans, with the University of New Mexico’s College of Education and Human Sciences, and LeAnne Gandy, the Leadership Development Program Coordinator with Cooperative Education Services (CES).
They each discussed programs they are working on that are intended to inspire and support teacher-leaders, whether as aspiring principals or first-year superintendents.
According to Emily Hoxie, a policy analyst with the LESC, a feature of the teacher leadership initiatives is its commitment to retaining local talent. Participating educators pledge to stay within their respective districts for a minimum of three years, a move to anchor local talent. Training sessions are strategically scheduled on weekends, with additional virtual leadership sessions to foster a holistic learning environment.
Romans, with the University of New Mexico, highlighted a teacher-training partnership that has so far facilitated the training of 129 teachers, with eight more set to join from Albuquerque Public Schools.
Gandy described the recent launch of CES’ regional principal-teacher institutes, aspiring superintendent academies, and monthly executive coaching sessions for teacher-leaders. She said these sessions are timed strategically to avoid disrupting the principal’s primary responsibilities in schools.
In August, the Educator Fellows program, aimed at breaking down barriers for would-be educators, was announced for 2023, with its participation swelling from 380 to nearly 500 in just one academic year, according to Amber Romero, the program’s administrator.
Although those were the only programs the LESC heard about at their meeting, another teacher-preparation program, under the guidance of the state’s Public Education Department, is making headlines. The Educator Fellows program, now in its second year, works to offer a two-year fellowship for aspiring educators. Participants benefit from competitive salaries, comprehensive health benefits, and paid leave for college coursework. Romero likened the initiative’s potential impact to “planting seeds” that will eventually bear fruit in the educational sector.
Diversity and community inclusion remain at the forefront of these endeavors. While the leadership programs collaborate with institutions ranging from urban hubs to rural areas, the Educator Fellows. Bobbie Shack, a coach in the program and member of the Zuni Pueblo, emphasized the power of seeing educators from one’s community leading classrooms.
Each of the initiatives face their share of challenges. On the leadership front, concerns persist about fragmented data on school leadership needs and the state’s uniform administration licensing system. As for the Educator Fellows initiative, its ability to continue relies on legislative backing, as the original funding came from the American Rescue Plan Act.