Why We Need Teacher Leaders in K-12 Now More than Ever

Why We Need Leaders in K-12 Now More than Ever

Student and teacher interaction in classroom

Consider the Gap

At a time when our schools continue to deal with the aftermath of pandemic-interrupted education, and classrooms are more diverse than ever, teachers are needed to take on critical leadership roles in their schools and to advocate for equity and social justice.

  • In the fall of 2021, 64% of high school graduates from higher-income school districts went on to enroll in higher education. Only 49% of graduates from lower-income districts did the same. The gap was even wider between those in high-poverty schools versus low-poverty schools.
  • In fall 2020, first-time college enrollment dropped by over 10 % at public, four-year institutions, and 8% at private, according to National Student Clearinghouse data. Although rates began to stabilize in 2022, they remain below pre-pandemic rates.
  • Roughly 19% of urban residents earn bachelor’s degrees or higher degrees, as opposed to about 66% of residents in wealthy towns.

Lead from the Classroom

“Traditionally, the only path to a leadership role for our best and brightest teachers is to move out of the classroom and into the principal’s or central office,” said Bob Hannafin, Director of the  Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD) program. “That’s changing, however, as leadership opportunities are increasing for teachers and other professionals who want to stay close to students and their learning, where they can embrace a more informal, integrated approach.”

The Ed.D. program at Fairfield University formally recognizes and supports K-12 teachers who are authentically leading change. The program helps develop the knowledge and skills necessary to bring about improvement across an entire school, district, and community. Developing teacher leaders to improve K-12 schools is a powerful strategy to promote effective, collaborative teaching practices, improved decision-making, and increased student achievement and overall well-being.

The EdD program at Fairfield University emphasizes social justice, equity, and access at a moment when leading from every classroom and educational institution for social justice is critical for the transformation of schools and communities.

Fairfield’s EdD program offers a blend of practical and theoretical expertise in leadership, content area, and research/inquiry skills. It focuses on leading complex challenges within schools and organizations. The program is an applied, practitioner-based degree that prepares educators to address challenges they face on a daily basis. The cohort-based program provides opportunities to collaborate and build external relationships and networks. The cultivation of leadership skills and dispositions is central to the purpose and function of this degree—and it is increasingly recognized outside of educational settings for this reason.

Request more information today about Fairfield’s EdD program for teacher leaders.


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