The McDonough School of Business’s Executive Masters in Leadership program welcomed back the first-ever joint cohort of principals from Washington, D.C. public and public charter schools.

The cohort, which began classes in January, comprises 10 principals from DCPS and 10 from public District charter schools sharing skills and knowledge while completing an 11-month degree program. Courses include options like Scenario Planning, Decision-Making, Strategy of Organizational Leadership, Leading Teams, How Leaders Develop and Anticipating the Future.

According to Robert Bies, founder of the EML program and professor in the MSB, the cohort is designed to facilitate cross-sector dialogue and projects.

The first cohort of principals from D.C. public charter and public schools returned to Georgetown to complete the Executive Masters in Leadership program. Classes began in January.

“The strength of a DCPS principal is that they’re part of a system, and, therefore, knowledge can be shared among a network and certain resources can be shared across a system of schools,” Bies said. “On the other hand, with most public charter schools, they’re formed like an entrepreneurial startup. So what they do well — because they’re startups — is that they’re entrepreneurial and innovative and they get the freedom to do that.”


Though the EML program typically costs $70,000 per participant, each principal is only responsible for $10,000 of his or her own tuition. Support for the EML program is funded, in part, by the Walton Family Foundation, a philanthropic fund, facilitated by the DC Public Education Fund.

Principal of Luke C. Moore High School Jada Langston said the cohort offers principals the opportunity to connect with colleagues they would typically only see on a limited basis.

“What I love about DC Public Schools is that I get to spend time with my colleagues,” Langston said in a statement to The Hoya. “This is an opportunity to build connections and relationships with charter school colleagues. We can do something phenomenal in this city through this cohort.”

Bies attributes the success of the program to the productive relationship between DCPS and public charter schools in the area.

“Nobody does this in the country. You couldn’t do this in New York. You couldn’t do this in Chicago. You can do this in D.C. because here public schools and public charter schools coexist. I’m not saying there’s no tension between DCPS and charter schools. There is some tension, but they do coexist,” Bies said. “They play together.”

Both DCPS and District public charter schools have commensurate enrollment numbers, with approximately 48,000 and 41,000 students enrolled respectively. Additionally, District Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) has shown broad support for public charter schools, allowing them to use public facilities and increasing their budget allotment by 2.2 percent over the next four years.

However, Bowser has proposed regulations on public charter schools in the District. In January, Bowser introduced a new policy that would force charter schools to give a preference in admissions to elementary school-aged children living within a half-mile of the school. The walkability preference will go into effect in the 2018-2019 school lottery.

Kathryn Procope, head of the Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science Public Charter School, said the EML program has been beneficial not only in honing her own administrative skills but also in building connections in schools around the city.

“My experience in the Georgetown EML program has been one of the best in my career. Each class has provided me with tools that I immediately use when I get back to school,” Procope wrote in an email to The Hoya. “The coursework has shaped my leadership with my staff, my students and their families. What started as cross sector collaboration between the principals has developed into deep friendships that will last long after the program is over.”

Correction: This article previously misrepresented the sources of funding for the EML program.

This post has been updated.

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  1. Andre Samuels says:

    As an EML graduate, I must say, this was one of the most rewarding professional learning opportunities I experienced as school leader!! Many thanks to Georgetown University and DC Public Schools for developing (and continuing) this partnership!

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