In 2018, Hamilton County Schools launched its five-year strategic plan, Future Ready 2023. The plan helps align district initiatives at all levels on the future readiness of students, with the ultimate goal of ensuring all students are prepared for post-secondary opportunities and are better-prepared to enter the workforce.
To support the Future Ready 2023 strategy of preparing students for real-world success, Hamilton County Schools created Future Ready Institutes — career-themed teaching and learning programs for students beginning in ninth grade. Embedded in 13 Hamilton County high schools, these institutes provide engaging instruction, local businesses partnerships and a post-secondary catalyst for enrolled students in career paths including health care, entrepreneurship and even aviation.
To ensure all students have access to great teachers, and all teachers have access to great leaders, Hamilton County Schools developed the Leadership, Exploration and Development initiative — LEAD.
LEAD programs identify and develop leadership talent and capacity across the district. They also prepare individuals to play key roles in the execution and ultimate success of Future Ready Institutes.
LEAD currently has three leadership development programs, with a fourth launching later this year. The Aspiring Assistant Principal and Aspiring Principal LEAD programs, launched during the 2020-2021 school year, help prospective and current assistant principals develop the necessary abilities to ascend toward assistant principalships and principalships while being more effective in those roles from day one.
LEAD also has the Aspiring Instructional Coach LEAD program launched during the 2021-2022 school year. The Aspiring Teacher Leader LEAD program is set to launch next school year.
These programs help teachers develop and refine their leadership and coaching skills to pursue a variety of school-based leadership roles, including Future Ready Institute leads. These leads provide leadership, coordination and support for their assigned Future Ready Institutes through work with their school community, district stakeholders, and business and community partners.
While the existing LEAD programs help prepare individuals for leadership roles outside the classroom, the upcoming Aspiring Teacher Leader LEAD program will develop candidates into highly effective educators while developing their capacity to take on leader roles in schools while also continuing to teach.
The program will include job-embedded and after-school professional learning opportunities, with participants engaging in a year-long project that addresses improvement opportunities in their own schools. The new program benefits Hamilton County teachers who want to remain in the classroom while also expanding their influence and impact, as well as district efforts to retain highly effective teachers inside classrooms as traditional teacher recruitment pathways decline.
A significant percentage of LEAD participants — 50% of former and 63 % of current secondary-level LEAD participants — worked or currently work in schools with a Future Ready Institute. This includes four Aspiring Principals, seven Aspiring Assistant Principals and four Aspiring Instructional Coaches.
Through their participation in LEAD, these individuals are not only more prepared to move into new leadership positions across Hamilton County but also equipped to bring their knowledge about Future Ready Institutes with them into their new roles.
Learn more about Future Ready Institutes, here.
Learn more about Hamilton County Schools, here.
Mollie Johnson joined Hamilton County Schools as a coach and facilitator for LEAD programs in September 2021. Prior to joining, she served as a school leader for YES Prep Public Schools in Houston, Texas for 12 years.