January 17, 2011
SPECIAL TO THE WCR

EDMONTON — A new leadership development program for Catholic teachers is set to open under a partnership between St. Thomas Aquinas Roman (STAR) Catholic School Division, Evergreen Catholic School Division and Newman Theological College.

The EXCEL Academy, which stands for Excellence in Catholic Educational Leadership, is designed to develop the next generation of Catholic educational leaders in STAR and Evergreen school divisions.

The academy's concept was developed by Troy Davies and Michael Hauptman. They approached Father Stefano Penna, dean at Newman Theological College, to create linkages between their organizations.

Newman will give students six graduate level credits for completing the EXCEL program as well as provide additional support and resources, including access to instructors and the library. The partners signed an agreement Jan. 5.

"EXCEL Academy was deliberately designed to develop leadership capacity at all levels of our organizations," Davies said.

The program aims not only to develop administrative leaders, such as principals, but also leaders in technology, literacy and faith development, he said.

SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT

"This program will provide a supportive and reflective environment that enables educators to develop their faith as it applies to all aspects of the Catholic leader experience," Hauptman said.

The program will accept up to 16 teachers every two years. The teachers will meet eight times for full-day sessions to focus on a custom-designed curriculum. A weekend retreat caps off the program.

Each curriculum module will focus on one of the four words in the EXCEL acronym. For instance, two sessions will focus on pursuing excellence and two others on the implications of being absorbed in leadership.

In addition to academic and reflective work, participants will engage in leadership projects back at their sites. The entire program will be infused with a Catholic perspective.

The partners are excited about the three-way partnership and the potential it holds for developing a new cadre of Catholic educational leaders who are prepared and spiritually formed to assume the mantle of leadership and the responsibilities that comes with leading our Catholic schools.

Collectively, the two school divisions serve approximately 20 schools south and west of Edmonton. STAR Catholic is headquartered in Leduc while Evergreen is in Spruce Grove.