The University of Tampa has partnered with Pasco County Schools to help current teachers earn the credentials required for leadership positions more easily.
“It’s so important to have great leaders — they inspire teachers, and then those teachers inspire students, which leads to student success,” said Colleen Beaudoin, chair of the Department of Education and member of the Pasco County School Board. “And that’s what we’re all about.”
Current Pasco County teachers can take two different paths offered by the university. One is the traditional path of receiving a master’s of education in educational leadership degree but is flexible in the format it is offered in — hybrid, online or in-person — and in the timing, which can be nights and weekends.
The other path has the same flexibility as the traditional master’s program but will allow teachers who already have one master’s degree to take the courses to be certified in the leadership program without necessarily adding a second master’s degree.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our teachers who are interested in leadership positions in our school district,” Kurt Browning, Pasco Superintendent of Schools, said in a statement. “The UT Education Leadership Program is top-notch. This partnership will benefit our school district for years to come as we cultivate new leaders to take us into the future.”
A leadership degree is required to become a principal. Pasco County School officials have told Beaudoin that while the talent is still there, the pipeline is shrinking for available local applicants.
“The pool is getting more shallow for principals,” Beaudoin said. “There’s not as many people qualified or applying as we’re going to need. There will be a lot of people retiring, and we need to have a pipeline preparing others to step in.”
While other qualified applicants from beyond the district can and do apply, the program provides a pathway for teachers who show leadership potential.
“It’s not bad to bring people in from the outside, but we have some great teacher leaders in our district who are already involved in the work we’re doing,” Beaudoin said. “So it would be nice if they had that degree to give them the opportunity to move forward.”
Anyone in the program still needs to pay for the classes, although UT did waive the application fee. While it is the first district it has partnered with for the program, Beaudoin and UT officials are hopeful other districts could follow suit.