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Center for Professional Development Works with School District of Philadelphia to Strengthen Leadership Coaching Program

Saint Joseph’s Center for Professional Development is helping a cohort of local school leaders obtain prominent coaching credentials.

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Written by: Gabrielle Lacherza

Published: December 12, 2022

Total reading time: 3 minutes

Effective school principals have a great impact on students, staff and communities. That is one of the many reasons why the School District of Philadelphia, one of the largest school districts in the nation, has been prioritizing leadership development and support for current and aspiring school principals. One of these initiatives is the district’s Leadership Coaching Program, a program where former principals are developed into leadership coaches to provide personalized support to other school leaders.

Now in its fourth year, the program is seeking to have all participants obtain certification through the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

“One of our goals is to be one of the only urban school districts in the nation to have a fully certified leadership coaching team,” says Michael Farrell, deputy chief of leadership development at the School District of Philadelphia.

Part of obtaining the ICF credential requires completing specific educational hours and curriculum. That’s where Saint Joseph’s University’s Center for Professional Development (CPD) steps in. As Saint Joseph’s is an ICF-accredited school, the District approached CPD about assisting with the educational component. CPD hosted the school leaders for a weekend of in-person trainings and workshops on the University’s Hawk Hill campus. This year’s cohort of eight began working toward the educational requirements in October and the remainder of the educational hours will be completed virtually.

“Saint Joseph’s is excited to be working with School District of Philadelphia leaders during such a critical time in education and hopes they will find this a meaningful experience,” says Marie Stevenson ’18 (MS), director of the Center for Professional Development. “We want to add value to the work they all do daily through engaging and practical content.”

One of this year’s participants is Christine Borelli, EdD, who is the parent of a current third-year student.

"Our work with SJU solidified that the coaching world is an impactful field that stretches far beyond the world of education. The learning activities and coaching content were engaging and demonstrated the power of building relationships, using assessments and crafting high-quality questions to provide coaches with impactful coaching experiences,” says Borelli, EdD, a leadership coach in the School District of Philadelphia.

Our work with SJU solidified that the coaching world is an impactful field that stretches far beyond the world of education.

Christine Borelli, EdD

Leadership Coach, School District of Philadelphia

CPD regularly collaborates with corporate clients and SJU’s faculty experts to create customized educational programs to help organizations fast track professional development for their employees.

“Our school leaders are as important and influential as leaders in other sectors,” says Farrell. “We are looking at this coaching program through the lens of executive coaching and having this credential is a gold standard in professional coaching and development.”

The district’s work with CPD will conclude in March and the Center hopes to have the cohort back on campus one more time before they complete the education requirements.

“I truly believe our involvement in the executive coaching program will prepare us for many opportunities to support high-performing leaders in the future,” adds Borelli.