Filling a Void

Peabody Offers Independent School Leadership Master’s

Paul Anderson/Illustration Source

Approximately 10 percent of U.S. students attend independent private schools, which make up about 25 percent of all American schools. Yet there has long been a shortage of opportunities for advanced, specialized study for educators who aspire to lead these institutions.

To address that need, Peabody College of education and human development is launching a master of education (M.Ed.) degree program in independent school leadership. Applications are being accepted for the first cohort, which will enroll this fall.

“Independent schools need leaders of excellence who understand the complex educational, political, social, fiscal and moral dimensions of independent schools and the communities in which they reside,” says Camilla Benbow, the Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development and professor of psychology at Peabody. “But each year thousands of independent school leaders pursue advanced degrees in programs designed to prepare public school principals, whose needs are very different.”

The new degree program will include intensive course work completed on the Vanderbilt campus during two consecutive summers, combined with school-based research and practice during the intervening academic year. Participants will maintain their current employment while pursuing their studies.

Subjects covered during the first summer will include such topics as governance, boards and organizational dynamics; school finance and fundraising; admissions and financial aid; marketing and external relations; curriculum design; teachers and teaching; and data-based decision making.

During the second summer, course work will address American educational history, international issues, school law, strategic planning and accreditation, conflict resolution, cognitive science, diversity, technology and innovation, among other topics.

The master’s program in independent school leadership will be directed by Patrick Schuermann, EdD’06, research assistant professor of public policy and education, who has been involved in leadership development for more than a decade at Peabody College and has established innovative programs to help school leaders develop their capacity to lead public, private and international schools. Schuermann has created and led several Peabody professional development programs serving independent school leaders through the Peabody Professional Institutes.

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