Teach For America Welcomes Five Aspiring Principals to Lead For Delaware, New Principal Certification Program

Participants Launch the Program with an International Journey to Learn from Effective Leaders in London


Wilmington, Del., May 16, 2016—Today, Teach For America-Delaware announced the second cohort of aspiring principals to join its Lead For Delaware (LFD) program. The five leaders joining the program are Sara Toussaint-Moody of Family Foundations Academy in New Castle, Julia Li of Freire Charter School in Wilmington, Bethelehem Yirga of Great Oaks Charter School in Wilmington, Jennifer Leach of Shields Elementary School in the Cape Henlopen School District, and Amanda Crisci of Woodbridge High School in the Woodbridge School District.

Teach For America recruits and trains college graduates and professionals to make a lifelong commitment to expanding educational opportunities for low-income students beginning with a teaching experience in a high needs school. The organization also supports educators by providing professional development opportunities like Lead For Delaware that nurture the continued growth of talented local leaders.

Launched in the fall of 2015, this two-year alternate route to principal certification trains educators to lead schools serving low-income communities and aims to support them in their journey to become the next generation of leaders for Delaware students. Participants will begin with an intensive summer leadership program in London followed by 1000 hours of extensive coaching, training and leadership development state-side including exploring best practices at four excellent schools in Delaware.

“These exceptional educators bring a fascinating range of experiences and perspectives, along with a powerful sense of urgency. We are inspired by their commitment to leading excellent Delaware schools where all students emerge as self-determined, critical thinkers prepared to succeed and lead,“ said Jeremy Grant-Skinner, who designed and manages the program.

The five leaders will begin the program by joining the 2015 LFD cohort on an international leadership journey to London through a partnership with Teach For All- a network of independent organizations, of which Teach For America is part of, working to expand educational opportunity around the world. The overseas experience is intended to develop a strong cohort culture that will drive the group’s collective growth and success for years to come. The journey includes group sessions focusing on leadership skills, developing a vision for change, and exchanging promising practices at a regional school leadership conference in England. The program participants will visit London schools which have experienced a dramatic turnaround in student achievement. Leaders of these schools will facilitate workshops to build knowledge, skills and core strategies that Delaware leaders will be able to implement in their own schools over time.

“Lead For Delaware excites me because it will enable me and my fellow leaders to have a diverse, hands-on experience visiting schools in and out of the US, while also connecting with a network of mentors and leaders,” said Julia Li, one of the new aspiring school leaders. “I’m looking forward to learning what is possible for our students and providing them with the education that they deserve.” Li, a founding mathematics teacher at Freire Charter School, previously served as a 2013 Teach For America corps member at Eastside Charter School, and also worked as a program director at UrbanPromise for nearly a decade.

For the next two years, these aspiring principals will explore best practices at four additional excellent schools in Delaware and across the U.S., study at Harvard and Wilmington Universities, complete a monthly school leadership seminar, coach new teachers, consult with more than a dozen excellent principals, and engage in real-time leadership practice through a 600-hour clinical experience. The leaders will earn principal certification from the Delaware Department of Education in June 2018, at which time they are expected to take on leadership roles in Delaware schools.

Lead For Delaware is open to applicants with at least three years of teaching experience, a Master’s degree, a strong academic record, evidence of effective teaching, and a commitment to leadership in Delaware. Teach For America received thirty applications to Lead For Delaware, including applicants with teaching experience ranging from three years to more than twenty years from a dozen districts and schools across all three of Delaware’s counties.

About Teach For America–Delaware

Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of college graduates and professionals to make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools in the effort to end educational inequity. Teach For America–Delaware was founded in 2011; since its inception, 200 corps members have taught in low-income schools statewide, reaching nearly 10,000 students and making an average gain of 1.6 years of academic growth. Today 140 corps members and alumni call Delaware home.  Alumni include two principals, three assistant principals, several deans, four Teacher of the Year-award recipients, and founders of two nonprofits that tackle high school readiness and summer learning loss. Teach For America is a proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network. For more information, visit delaware.teachforamerica.org or www.leadfordelaware.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.