GSEHD Unveils First GW/DCPS Equity-Centered Leadership Cohort

Sixteen DCPS employees began the program in fall 2023.

November 7, 2023


The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development (GSEHD) has announced the launch of the Educational Leadership and Administration (ELA) program’s first equity-centered leadership cohort with the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS).

The cohort will be 18 months in length, beginning in fall 2023 and extending to spring 2025. It is intended for individuals gaining a master’s or educational specialist degrees.

The unveiling of this inaugural cohort comes after two years of program redesign efforts in the ELA program that were informed by a collaborative partnership with DCPS and funded by the Wallace Foundation. DCPS, in partnership with GW, Howard University and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, was one of eight districts nationally to receive Wallace funding to form a District Partnership Team that is designing a comprehensive, aligned, equity-centered principal pipeline.

GSEHD faculty members Rebecca Thessin, Leslie Trimmer, Jennifer Clayton and Abebayehu Tekleselassie along with their ELA faculty colleagues, collaborated on the program’s redesign efforts and prepared for the DCPS cohort launch this fall. Thessin, associate professor of educational administration, said, “Through our redesign efforts, we have thoughtfully examined all aspects of our program, from the admissions process where we assessed the readiness of candidates to be equity-centered leaders, to what is the portrait of an equity-centered leader upon graduation? An energizing part of our work has been engaging in our redesign in collaboration with DCPS, other district partners and program alumni to ensure we can prepare our graduates to meet districts’ needs for equity-centered leaders.” 

Tynika Young-Aleibar, DCPS’ director of pipeline initiatives said, “It has been exciting to partner with GW’s ELA faculty to bring the vision of the cohort come to fruition, and DCPS is looking forward to sustaining our partnership to continue to educate aspiring school leaders who will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to lead with equity.”

Shaping the leaders of tomorrow

Following a rigorous application process and a candidate assessment day facilitated by GW ELA faculty and DCPS administrators in June 2023, 16 DCPS aspiring leaders were selected to join the first cohort. These aspiring leadership candidates have begun an 18-month program in which they will earn an Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) or Master’s (M.A.) degree in Educational Leadership and Administration while continuing in their current roles as DCPS teachers, teacher leaders and instructional coaches, among other roles.

Trimmer, ELA program co-director and assistant professor of practice, said, “Working with the students throughout the application process, Candidate Assessment Day, and the orientation sessions has been rewarding. The entire ELA faculty looks forward to supporting DCPS’s aspiring leaders throughout their leadership journey.” 

This initiative will prepare DCPS educators for future administrative roles as assistant principals and principals. Graduates of the program will be ready to enact equity for all members of the school communities they serve by envisioning an inclusive culture of shared leadership, engaging in ongoing dialogue and learning, disrupting systems and practices that perpetuate inequities, and improving outcomes for students, staff, and families. To achieve this, courses in all ELA M.A. and Ed.S. programs require candidates to connect leadership theory with practice as they are prepared for administrative licensure in the District of Columbia. During coursework, students also complete 325 hours of sustained/clinical internship experiences to grow the knowledge, practices, and dispositions needed as equity-centered K-12 administrators.  

DCPS leaders share in the excitement surrounding the launch of the first GW/DCPS equity-centered leadership cohort. “As a proud alumnus of GSEHD, this announcement is a full circle moment for me.” said DC Public Schools’ Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee. “This cohort will empower our future leaders with an education grounded on the importance of equity as a necessary element of any school system truly committed to narrowing achievement gaps. Together, we are working to make certain that the next generation of DCPS leaders has the knowledge and tools needed to ensure inclusive learning environments and fair outcomes for every student.”