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Our 2018 Equity Scholarship Winner reports on his experience at Harvard

Posted on 24 November 2018
Our 2018 Equity Scholarship Winner reports on his experience at Harvard

"Learn to Change the World"

Professional Renewal Report from Harvard University

After many years as a secondary school principal in two school settings, Sydney Catholic Schools offered me the opportunity to take Professional Renewal Leave. During the planning phase a colleague suggested I look at the programs offered by Harvard University. Upon investigation, I found a range of excellent professional development programs through the Principal's Centre at Harvard. After my initial contact, I was offered a vast range of courses and I narrowed down my selection based on my areas of interest. However, my budget did not stretch that far, but after hearing Frank FitzGerald speak at our Principal's meeting I made contact with CaSPA and submitted an application for a scholarship, which was successful.

In June 2018, I flew to Boston with great excitement and anticipation. I met some wonderful people and educators, one in particular being Associate Professor Kay Merseth (Attached is a link to one of her speeches - the first 9 minutes is Gold). Kay was in charge of the program at
Harvard and in attendance every day, she is an inspirational educator who touched our hearts as "We Learn to Change the World". My focus was on the key factors that can drive school improvement and how to use these to improve the learning outcomes for the children in our schools today and for tomorrow.
The course I attended was called "Turnaround School Leaders" . This program was developed to assist school systems, superintendents, principals and teachers to deepen their understanding of the key principles required to turnaround schools that needed immediate intervention. I chose this course after reading about the program and developing an appreciation that these principles are also central to any self improving school community. In fact, the key elements of the program are applicable in any setting.
Key Factors to Drive School Improvement:

  •     Learning how to approach the Turnaround Process from an organizational and cultural perspective
  •     Understanding the role of Strategy , the importance of a clear and targeted Change Process and a well articulated Theory of Change/Action
  •     Exploring the Leadership qualities required to lead successful turnaround a school, including the development of high functioning teams
  •     Understanding how to use Data effectively to ground decisions and to determine strategies, track progress and engage all stakeholders
  •     Exploring tools to drive high quality Instructional Practices throughout the school
  •     Learning how to leverage the Engagement of Families to improve student outcomes

These six factors are all high yield strategies that have consistently improved student success over many years and across different types of schools. The major learning for me as a Principal is to focus, with precision, on the strategies that will drive improvement and to develop a shared and committed approach to implementing these strategies across the whole school.
The network I developed with the teaching staff at Harvard, along with other professionals from all over the world, has been invaluable. It was an amazing opportunity to simply be a student!

For the opportunity to get up each day and go to "Uni" and immerse myself in a high quality program of study I am indebted to CaSPA. I sincerely thank CaSPA for supporting my program of study and Sydney Catholic Schools for assisting and supporting my professional renewal leave.

Yours Sincerely,

Daniel Delmage Principal

Trinity Catholic College 

Auburn/Regents Park

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