Lowcountry Center for Educational Leadership’s Launch Announced

Staff Report From Charleston CEO

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC) and the Low Country Education Consortium (LCEC), a collaboration of superintendents from the tri-county region’s four school districts, are pleased to announce the launch of the Lowcountry Center for Educational Leadership (LCEL). The Center will create a pipeline of trained and certified principal candidates who are ready to fill vacancies as they occur within the school districts.

“Having a core of well-trained and ready instructional leaders in our region is central to the work my superintendent colleagues and I have undertaken,” said Dr. Gerrita Postlewait, superintendent of the Charleston County School District, in announcing the launch. “We are extraordinarily grateful to the LCEL’s Founding Sponsors, Blackbaud, Volvo Car, Robert Bosch and the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee, for their support.”  

“We are pleased to be a part of this important collaboration among our four superintendents. In our work to see that all children in the region secure a high-quality education, the role principals play is pivotal,” said Phyllis Martin, TCCC’s chief executive officer. TCCC was supportive in the formation of the LCEC in 2016 and continues to act as fiscal agent and fundraiser for this project.

Two years ago, the LCEC initiated this project to create a pipeline of aspiring principals ready and qualified to fill vacancies within the districts. High turnover, especially in the region’s most challenging schools, too often led to individuals being placed in these positions who were not yet ready for the daunting challenges. The superintendents were determined to do something about it.

After a national search was conducted by TCCC, with support from the Wallace Foundation, on behalf of the superintendents, the University of Washington’s Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) was selected to provide the evidence-based training program.

"Strong school leaders are essential to student success.  We know that well-defined leadership competencies, rigorous hiring processes and robust professional learning opportunities for school leaders positively impacts student learning.  Students benefit when we invest in talented leaders," said Joe Pye, superintendent for Dorchester School District Two.

The LCEL’s training initiative has three components. The first component began last summer when 45 sitting principals from the four school districts began a year-long training conducted by CEL which was paid for entirely by the school districts. A second component will provide training for principal supervisors and will be delivered in the future.

The third component is the development of the aspiring principals training that will yield candidates who are not only state-certified, but well-equipped with the skills and dispositions to be principals. Candidates for this program would be identified by each district, and individuals completing the program will be in a candidate pool from which candidates will be given strong consideration to fill vacancies within each district. The program development is being supported by consultants working with CEL faculty and by representatives of all four districts to assure a common study program while still being responsive to the distinctive qualities of each district.

"I am excited about the potential that a talent development pipeline has for our region.  The tremendous community support that exists here from business and industry is a competitive advantage for the region," said Dr. Kelvin Wymbs, superintendent of Dorchester School District Four.

With initial funding now secured, the superintendents plan a public campaign targeting private philanthropists and the business community to support the next projects of the LCEL.

“Our business leaders in Berkeley County and across the region know better than anyone how important it is to have strong principals for our schools, and they are the beneficiaries of effective public education,” said Dr. Eddie Ingram, superintendent of the Berkeley County School District. “When we call on them, I am confident they will respond as Blackbaud, Bosch, Volvo and others have done.”

Once fully established, the LCEL is intended to be self-funded through tuitions paid by the districts.