Along with ensuring access to high quality public schools for all Newark children, the Newark Trust for Education is committed to supporting efforts to recruit and retain outstanding school leaders.

Our Committee of Advocates Forum: Finders Keepers: Recruiting and Retaining High Quality School Leaders will take place in our Community Room on March 26 between 6pm and 8pm. Seating is limited so RSVP now!

In the days and weeks leading up to the forum, we will be posting some of the latest thinking on leadership recruitment and retention, and the qualities and characteristics of effective leaders. We invite you to join the conversation.


Luis Muñoz Marin School Principal Maria Ortiz, who received funding for a Therapeutic Learning Room through the Trust's Funders Collaborative. 

We begin with some important distinctions about leadership. One is that you do not need formal authority to be a leader. Think about John Lewis, Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Malcolm X, and, yes, Oprah. Not one held any position of formal authority, yet each has made a difference in the world.

Another distinction is that position does not automatically equate with leadership. The position of school principal or district administrator comes with formal authority but leadership is a choice. Leadership is a verb.

Those who choose to lead are those principals and school administrators who help their schools, parents, teachers, and students recognize and then bridge a gap between where and who they are, and where and who they need to be. Leaders mobilize people to go someplace together. Consider the greatest leaders of all time. They all helped people confront a gap between what is and what should be- sometimes at great peril to themselves personally and professionally.

When many of us were attending school, the principal was the person whose office we tried to avoid. Today’s school leaders are different. They are expected to be the school’s instructional leader, the chief executive officer, the human resources director, a systems thinker, a data analyst, a public relations expert, a social worker, a role model, and a dedicated and tireless public servant. And on top of all that, today’s school leaders require the courage and tenacity to take bold steps to uncover and address deep and persistent social and economic issues.

More than at any other time, today’s school leaders are being asked to turn around chronically underperforming schools. In many school districts, they are asked to do this with little input over staffing or budget - the primary levers an executive would use to turn around an organization.

With 590 operating school districts and over 2,300 public schools in New Jersey, what are we doing here in Newark – the State’s largest city – to attract and retain the kind of bold and thoughtful leaders our schools and our children need? Let’s keep this conversation going. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. RSVP for the Forum on March 26. We are interested in hearing what you have to say.

Read more in our series on leadership

What school districts can do to recruit and retain leaders

Leaders Grow Leaders