In an effort to bolster talented school principals, Northwestern faculty will provide leadership training and executive coaching to top educators from Chicago Public Schools.


The Chicago Public Schools Principal Fellowship program is a three-year partnership between Chicago Public Schools and Northwestern’s Center for Nonprofit Management at the Kellogg School of Management and School of Education and Social Policy.

The Chicago Public Education Fund (The Fund) will invest $500,000 in the initiative. The Principal Fellowship is also supported by the Crown Family.

Designed to challenge and invigorate already high-performing principals, the year-long program uses cutting-edge leadership development techniques, said Northwestern’s James Spillane, a key architect of the program and the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Professor of Learning and Organizational Change in the School of Education and Social Policy.

The initiative is unique because Northwestern faculty will provide six days of academic training and a 360-degree assessment, which involves receiving performance feedback from a variety of coworkers, rather than solely relying on a superior. The fellows also will receive group and individual coaching from Northwestern experts.

“The 360 evaluation is a terrifying experience, but those who have had it say it’s the most helpful thing they’ve ever done,” said Jane Hoffman, assistant director of non-profit executive education at Kellogg. “Leaders don’t realize people are watching them all the time.”

CPS officials are committed to recruiting, retaining and developing talented principals, according to Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the chief executive officer of CPS, the third-largest school district in the nation.

Recent data suggests that principal effectiveness improves over time, peaking and stabilizing in the fourth or fifth year a principal is on the job, said Byrd-Bennett. “Yet only 40 percent of principals remain in that role after five years,” she said.

In return for one year of development training, the fellows commit to staying in leadership roles at CPS for the next three years.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Kellogg to partner with SESP to help outstanding Chicago Public School principals grow their leadership skill set and increase their impact across the district,” said Liz Livingston Howard, director of Nonprofit Executive Education at Kellogg.

In addition to Hoffman and Spillane, the program was designed by Livingston Howard and Penelope Peterson, dean of Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy.

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