New York, NY (April 25, 2016)—Across the country, there are schools serving hard-to-reach kids that knock it out of the park academically, performing far above average, and boasting vibrant cultures and strong family engagement. New Leaders (formerly New Leaders for New Schools) has spent the past fifteen years training, supporting and studying the exemplary principals who lead such schools. For the first time, its Chief Officers—Jean Desravines, Ben Fenton and Jaime Aquino—bring together what they have learned to help school leaders across the country achieve similarly impressive results.
Breakthrough Principals: A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Stronger Schools does for school leadership what Teach Like a Champion did for teaching: It demystifies the success of “superhero principals,” breaking down their actions into discrete practices illuminated by case studies of real-life principals and placing these practices into a clear and actionable framework that any leader can apply at his or her school.
New Leaders staff visited more than 100 of the highest gaining high-poverty schools in the country to identify the factors that contribute to their success. Foremost among their findings is that the principals who lead these schools do not rely on ineffable qualities like supersized charisma; rather, they enact a common set of actions and practices that, when implemented continuously and with fidelity, reliably enable teachers, students, and schools to thrive.
For example, the successful school leaders they observed start by accurately and comprehensively diagnosing their school’s needs. They then systematically prioritize these needs and match them to effective solutions that can push their school—and student achievement—to the next level.
Breakthrough Principals leads readers through these processes step by step, drawing on case studies to illuminate how real principals have approached common problems, and providing practical guidance and tools that principals and teams can use to build a shared vision while increasing the quality of teaching and learning; improving school culture; attracting and supporting high-performing teachers; and involving parents and community to help students achieve.
The book shows how breakthrough principals infuse the school’s mission into both strategy and practice, and set up sustainable systems to cultivate leadership across the school and support consistent, ongoing progress. High-impact practices are organized into a framework of five broad categories—learning and teaching; school-wide culture; aligned staff, operations and systems; and personal leadership—and are brought to life by examples of school leaders applying these practices to achieve dramatic improvements.
Whether principals work in a turnaround environment, or are seeking to make a good school great, Breakthrough Principals lays out a set of concrete practices that have been proven to work, unveiling the details behind our nation’s educational success stories and providing a roadmap for transformative improvement.
About the Authors:
JEAN DESRAVINES (New York, NY), Chief Executive Officer of New Leaders, has more than 15 years of professional leadership experience working with parents and communities on education issues and community development, primarily focusing on improving outcomes for children in underserved communities. Before joining New Leaders, Desravines served as senior counselor to the chancellor of New York City’s public school system, where he built support for the district’s ambitious reform agenda. He was recently named by Forbes as one of the Top 30 Social Entrepreneurs in the country, alongside Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp and Darrell Hammond, founder of KaBOOM.
BENJAMIN FENTON (Washington, DC) is Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of New Leaders, where he leads the organization’s Policy and Practice Services, helping states and districts develop new policies, strategies, and tools for principal evaluation and principal effectiveness. A recognized expert on principal quality, Fenton formerly worked as a consultant at McKinsey and Company, focusing on marketing and operational efficiency.
JAIME AQUINO (New York, NY) is the Chief Program Officer of New Leaders, where he leads design, development and delivery for New Leaders’ core programs. Previously, he held leadership positions in several major districts, including Deputy Executive Director for the Division of Instructional Support and Local Instructional Superintendent for the New York City Department of Education, Deputy Superintendent of Instruction for Los Angeles Unified School District and Chief Academic Officer in Denver. Aquino began his career in education as a bilingual teacher in Queens, New York.