Principal Innovation Fellowship Welcomes First Cohort of Public High School Leaders

This summer, the Bank Street Education Center partnered with New York City Public Schools (NYCPS) to launch the Principal Innovation Fellowship, a program that works as an extension of the NYCPS’ Office of Student Pathways to support public high school leaders in redesigning their schools to offer relevant career pathways and work-based learning opportunities for students.

The unique partnership was born out of the Future Ready NYC (FRNYC) initiative, which aims to put the city’s public school students on a path to a rewarding career that is aligned with their passion and purpose, helping them achieve long-term economic security and a choice-filled life. FRNYC, a key initiative of NYCPS Chancellor David Banks, has launched in 100 public schools across the city to date.

“At Bank Street, we view school leaders as facilitators of learning and growth and the essential drivers of change in school communities,” said Shael Polakow-Suransky, GSE ’00, President, Bank Street College. “We are excited to launch a new fellowship that offers principals the opportunity to refine their strategic planning and management skills as they learn how to realize a vision for their schools that sets students up for success in their educational journey and in their careers.”

Principal Innovation Fellowship Summer InstituteThe fellowship commenced with a summer institute, which brought together the inaugural cohort of 27 principals for the first time to deepen their understanding of how to effectively redesign a school. During the five-day intensive, they reflected on the structures currently in place at their schools, analyzed what components of their models need to be reimagined, and engaged with industry leaders and professionals in high growth careers. These opportunities helped principals begin to develop a roadmap for school redesign with benchmarks for change across a two-year span.

As this transformative work unfolds over the next two years, Bank Street will work with NYCPS to provide coaching, program design support, and inspiration for leaders to make bold changes in their schools. Through the fellowship, principals will receive support in creating and implementing a redesign plan for their schools that better prepares students for postsecondary success, including career readiness and the ability to access in-demand professions that can support economic mobility for those whose families experience generational poverty.

“As the city begins to think about a different kind of goal for public high schools, we wanted to create a space for principals to think, learn, and innovate,” said Polakow-Suransky during his opening remarks. “What about your school is working for students, for teachers, and for families, and what’s not? How can we do better? In order for our work to be effective, we need to center hands-on learning that engages young people in authentic ways.”

Bank Street will also work with principals throughout the two-year period to ensure their implementation plans are aligned to the core components of FRYNC and the College will collaborate with NYCPS to measure and document outcomes across participating public schools.

The Principal Innovation Fellowship is a collaboration between Bank Street Graduate School of Education and the Bank Street Education Center, which collaborates with schools, school systems, and districts across the country to influence positive learning outcomes for students and educators. The Education Center is dedicated to improving instructional practice at scale through strategic guidance, professional learning, and coaching.

“Bank Street has a proven track record of developing highly adaptive and innovative school leaders that make a real difference in schools and in communities,” said Alexa Shore, Senior Director of Growth & Strategy, School System Partnerships and Programs, Bank Street Education Center. “We are excited for the fellowship to inspire public school leaders to plan career-connected learning opportunities for students, integrate new partnerships, and build momentum for change in their school communities that creates a foundation for students to thrive in school and in life.”

The fellowship is funded by Bank Street Trustee Charlie Bendit and Karyn Bendit, who believe education is the cornerstone of a high-quality life and is drawn to programs that build career awareness in young people. From providing internships to students from the former Taft High School in the Bronx, to teaching third- through fifth-graders about their built environment in the Lower East Side’s District One, Bendit believes that success lies in helping students see beyond what they thought was possible and to think bigger about what they can accomplish.

“I believe in the power of education to transform the lives of our city’s students and the communities in which they live and learn,” said Bendit. “I am pleased to support this innovative new partnership between Bank Street and NYCPS to help principals create opportunities for students to connect their classroom work to future career pathways and create meaningful change for a new generation of young learners.”

To learn more about the Principal Innovation Fellowship, visit Bank Street’s website