Grant Supports Leadership Development of Superintendents

Faculty and Research
Photo of Bill Isler and Jerry Longo

Pictured: Jerry Longo (right) poses with Bill Isler (left), a Forum for Western Pennsylvania School Superintendents participant, as Isler accepts the Forum’s Voice of Advocacy Award. 

Pitt School of Education faculty member Jerry Longo has received $120,000 in grant funding to provide continued support for the leadership development programs he coordinates for superintendents and assistant superintendents of K-12 schools across Western Pennsylvania.

The Grable Foundation awarded $90,000 to Longo’s efforts with the Forum for Western Pennsylvania School Superintendents, which is a group of 55 superintendents from a diverse range of school districts across Western Pennsylvania. Twice a year the Forum convenes for a retreat focused on learning and collaboration.

The Grable Foundation also granted $30,000 to the other program Longo helps administer, The Collaborative for Assistant Superintendents. Longo co-directs the collaborative with Administrative and Policy Studies faculty member Diane Kirk. The Collaborative is designed to provide training for assistant superintendents who aspire to the superintendency. 

The grant money will support Longo’s efforts to keep the programming current and relevant for participants. It is intended to fund speakers, educational materials, and other resources that current or future superintendents may benefit from, covering topics such as the politics of a school district and school fiscal challenges. 

“We serve the school leaders so that they can serve their districts,” said Longo, who is part of the school’s Administrative and Policy Studies department.

For decades, the Pitt School of Education has provided education programs in school leadership. Those seeking to become school leaders can obtain training through the K-12 Principal Certificate, Superintendent’s Letter of Eligibility Certificate, and Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction Certificate. 

Longo says that the Forum and Collaborative position Pitt Education as a leader in professional development of school leaders. Pitt Education provides the region’s superintendents and assistant superintendents with membership in a regional network of top school leaders and Pitt Education. These programs also support access to quality internships and mentoring for Pitt Education students. 

The Assistant Superintendent Collaborative counts as Act 45 credit, which administrators are required to earn in order to keep their certification. Perhaps just as importantly, The Collaborative acts as a stepping stone in a participant’s journey to become a superintendent.

Founded in 1996, the Forum for Western Pennsylvania School Superintendents is an offshoot of the National Forum for School Superintendents.

Longo says he expects the additional grant funding to help foster the sense of camaraderie that superintendents develop with each other. 

At last year’s retreat, superintendents gathered in small groups and created cross-district initiatives. Five groups each received $2,200 in funding for those projects, which they have begun implementing as a collaboration across school districts. 

Longo explained that for superintendents facing the pressure of their jobs, support systems like those gained in the Forum can be a lifeline. The superintendent role can be a lonely one. It’s crucial for them to have the opportunity to connect with others who understand what the experience feels like. The retreat is designed with the hopes that a relaxed environment, away from distractions, will help create a community of collaboration. 

The 2019 Collaborative for Assistant Superintendents will be held on October 14 at the William Pitt Union. 

The 2019 Forum for Western Pennsylvania School Superintendents will be held on November 13-15 at the Omni Bedford Springs Hotel. Learn more here

View our Education/School Leadership program portfolio.