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The EDRC Up Close... Urban Leadership Academy

The Urban Leadership Academy (ULA) is a professional development program for new and experienced school leaders and is offered through the Educator Development and Research Center, in partnership with the Department of Organizational Leadership & Organization (OLPD), and six metro area school districts. The program brings together educators from Minneapolis, Mounds View, North Saint Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale, Osseo, South Washington County, and Spring Lake Park Public Schools and provides professional development opportunities based on topics they have identified as relevant to their own educational contexts. "The past four years, partners have identified a need for more preparation in areas of equity and diversity," notes Vanessa Abanu, Coordinator of College Collaborations for Field-Based Professionals in the EDRC, "It has been exciting to watch school leaders engage in their own learning. They have so many other responsibilities; they often do not get a chance to talk about their own concerns. ULA gives them the space to do that."

ULA workshops cover a variety of topics intended to allow school leaders to approach equity and school change from multiple angles. "We try to bring in presenters that address the complexity of meeting the academic needs of all students," Abanu discusses, "Like our last workshop - Reshaping Mathematics Education for the 21st Century. It wasn't just about teaching math, and it wasn't just about teaching diversity. Our presenters looked at what it means to address diversity in math instruction. I like that about this year's workshops."

ULA is governed by an advisory board made up of teacher leaders, principals, associate superintendents, and representative staff from OLPD. Past workshop topics have addressed themes related to achieving excellence and equity through school design, understanding factors that contribute to the achievement gap, and modeling leadership despite adversity and resistance.

"ULA's urban framework is important. We're a first-ring suburb, and we're facing many of the same challenges as urban schools. ULA brings together a nice blend of research and practice in an on-going dialog, not a one-shot deal. We can learn from others."

-Ellen Delaney
associate principal, Spring Lake Park Schools
For more information on ULA workshops in April and May, check the Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities section below, or go to

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