“What do you want to do when [your PhillyPLUS principal fellowship] is over?”
This was one of many important questions Kate Davis was asked by her PhillyPLUS leadership coach before she started her principal fellowship a few years ago, and she remembers being unsure about how to answer. “I said ‘I think I want to be a principal’ and my coach looked at me and said ‘do you think you want to be a principal, or do you want to be a principal?’ In that moment, I realized how important it is to be able to say to people what your strengths are, what you set out to do, and what you aspire to do [with your time in PhillyPLUS.]”
Davis, a Philadelphia native, had been working in New York but came back to Philadelphia specifically to be in PhillyPLUS. She completed her fellowship in 2018, and is now the principal of the school she grew up attending, Charles W. Henry School.
Launched in 2013 by PSP, PhillyPLUS (Pathways to Leadership in Urban Schools) is a two-year principal fellowship which offers aspiring school leaders an opportunity to earn their principal certification at the end of their first year, and be placed in a leadership role at a school during the second year of the program. Throughout the residency, each principal fellow receives hands-on training overseen by leadership coaches and mentor principals. PSP has invested over $7M into PhillyPLUS, which is also co-funded by the Neubauer Family Foundation and facilitated by TNTP.
PhillyPLUS’s 2019 cohort, which consists of 14 aspiring principals, recently attended the PhillyPLUS Summer Institute where they were able to hear from three PhillyPLUS alumni—principal Kate Davis; Luke Hostetter (PhillyPLUS 2015), principal at C.C.A. Baldi Middle School; and Samantha Levine (PhillyPLUS 2018), a curriculum and instruction associate with Jounce Partners—about how the fellowship prepared them to be thoughtful and effective school leaders.
Hostetter credits PhillyPLUS with giving him the skills to build a strong instructional foundation at Baldi, one of Philadelphia’s largest middle schools with nearly 1,500 students.
“I have used so much of the learning in the systems that we’ve built school-wide: how we provide instructional coaching for teachers, how I support my leadership team, the lens that we take to our work, our focus on students, our focus on growth. Keeping that focus on instruction with everything else that happens in your day-to-day school leadership was part of the foundation that PLUS built.”
The impact of PhillyPLUS can be seen throughout the city in every sector (for example, 50% of principals hired by the School District for the 2018-19 school year were PhillyPLUS alumni).