Urban Principal Development Institute


About the Institute

The Urban Principals Development Institute (UPDI) offers two programs—one for Aspiring Principals and another for Newly Appointed Principals. Both programs are designed to educate and deploy a highly capable force of school leaders who want to improve the odds for children and young people in highly challenged urban schools.  Both programs offer practical, hands-on experience aligned with clear, research-based leadership standards, and draw extensively on the training components developed over the past fifteen years by the famed New York City Leadership Academy (NYCLA).  Teachers21—sponsor of the UPDI programs—works in partnership with NYCLA. 

Assumption College in Worcester is the 2018-2019 site for the Aspiring Principals Program; programs for newly appointed principals in urban districts will continue to be based at Teachers21 located at William James College in Newton.


Aspiring Principals Program

 The program for those aspiring to lead a school will begin with a four-week problem-based Summer Intensive (July 2 - 27, 2018) and continue during the school year with seventeen seminars held on Thursdays from 4:30 - 8:30 p.m. and eight Saturdays from  9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. For the past six years, the year-long program—offering licensure preparation as well as the option of an M.Ed. in Organizational Management—has been based in Springfield where close to eighty aspiring principals from SPS as well as Worcester, Holyoke and Boston have participated.  Teachers21 is enormously grateful to the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation for the generous scholarship assistance provided to promising Springfield and Holyoke candidates over the past three years.  (more...)


Newly Appointed Principals Program

The Newly Appointed Principals Program enrolls those new to school leadership challenges. Participants may bring members of their leadership team, if they wish. Program components include a week-long summer institute, ongoing 1:1 coaching through the first year, and a mid-year retreat for assessment of progress and course corrections as needed. (more...) 


Institute Faculty

Gail Donovan directed the state’s first Turnaround Leadership Academy and is Founding Director of the Urban Principals Development Institute (UPDI).  A former urban principal and assistant superintendent for instruction, she has served as Special Assistant to the Philadelphia and San Francisco superintendents as well as the Chancellor of the New York City schools and has had leadership roles in major school reform efforts such as the Bay Area School Reform Collaborative (BASRC) on the West Coast and New Visions for Public Schools in New York City. 

June Eressy was until recently a prominent principal in the Worcester Public Schools and is the new Assistant Director of UPDI. A National Board Certified Teacher and recipient of the National Milken Educator Award, she has also received national recognition for leading high achieving schools that serve large numbers of students living in poverty—the Dispelling the Myth Award given by the Education Trust (2005) and the Breakthrough High School Award given by the Metropolitan Life Foundation-National Association of Secondary School Principals (2007). She recently served as Acting Deputy Superintendent of the Worcester Public Schools during the Board’s search for a new superintendent. 



 Upcoming Information Sessions on the Aspiring Principals Program 

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Thursday, February 8
4 p.m.
Board of Selectmen's Meeting Room
Richard D. Carney Municipal Office Building (Town Hall)
 100 Maple Street
Shrewsbury, MA 01545

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Wednesday, March 7
4 p.m.
Educational Association of Worcester
397 Grove Street, Suite 1
Worcester, MA  01605

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Urban Leadership program participant

I guess the ratings say it all…. Overall, it was a challenging, time consuming, exhausting program that I felt was completely worth every minute of lost sleep!"

Urban Leadership program participant

The summer intensive was even better than advertised! Just yesterday, my brother in law asked me "how I did" in the program as in what grade did I get. He knew, everyone knew, how hard I worked and he could only assume there was an evaluation of some sort. I told him there was no grade and that reflected on the value of the program. We worked impossibly hard simply because we believed in the work and the possibility of improving ourselves as professionals."

Urban Leadership program mentor

This graduate has made progress with developing much needed systems in her building, she has established clear protocols, developed lines of communication, and she is taking an active role in her building by leading from the 'front'."

Urban Leadership program mentor

I think this graduate is a star. Our relationship is very strong; he makes sure he includes me in the loop. He thinks very much out of box, yet he is a traditionalist in many other ways. He is very comfortable with himself which is not always the case with first time leaders...My instincts and what I have seen so far tell me that he is a profoundly talented leader."

Urban Leadership program mentor

I learned much from (my mentee). I am not sure if it was the individual or the program but she was by far the most productive and effective intern I have had. To date I have mentored 10 principal interns. She taught me what a prepared intern should look like before they take on the role of principal. I also learned much about Common Core."


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