Syracuse Aspiring Leaders Academy Celebrates Five Years of Success

     Published on 7/30/18   Tagged under:    District News    Corcoran High School    Danforth Magnet School    Franklin Elementary School    McKinley-Brighton Elementary School   

This is a group photo of the staff taking part in the 2017-18 Syracuse Aspiring Leaders Academy.The Syracuse Aspiring Leaders Academy (SALA) started in 2013-14 with the goal of building internal leadership capacity within the SCSD. Rather than hiring external applicants for administrative and leadership roles, SALA was intended to help train leaders who are already engaged with – and passionate about – Syracuse City Schools.
This past school year, the 2017-18 cohort continued the program’s record of success.
“The most unique aspect of SALA is that one gets to view leadership from a varied vantage point,” Danforth Administrative Intern Moshiena Faircloth explained. “Although you may see yourself as a leader because you have taken on ‘leadership roles,’ you can’t truly comprehend the full throttle of what it takes to be a building or district leader until you have the opportunity to brainstorm and discuss what leadership entails with other individuals who are current or former leaders. SALA gives you the chance to have these 1:1 and group discussions, which is a unique experience in and of itself. The experience has broadened and shifted my leadership skills to a whole new level.”
“SALA helped me gain a better understanding of what leadership looks like in the Syracuse City School District,” Corcoran Vice Principal Hugh Hogle said. “It helped me find my leadership style, shape my thinking and narrow my focus to find what’s important to me. Defining my philosophy and what’s important to me will help me be clear in my mission, and the program helps the district see where different types of leaders can be the most effective.”
SALA is a significant time commitment: the group meets seven times throughout the school year for full-day sessions on Saturdays. Attendees learn about building positive climate and culture, instructional leadership, making data-driven decisions, distributive leadership, effective feedback and more. They take a leadership assessment and develop a personal goal plan to track their skill development over the course of the year. They read several books each year to help bring the sessions full circle.
“I learned a lot about myself and my leadership skills throughout the SALA experience,” Franklin Administrative Intern Chelsey MacDougall D’Eredita said. “In a room full of leaders, my confidence grew as I was able to make valuable contributions to our group discussions. I am very passionate about our district initiatives, particularly Culturally Responsive Education. Our discussions in SALA surrounding topics such as these have strengthened my leadership skills and enabled me to bring these ideas back to my building and create a culture to embody these important values.”
Participants also say the conversation-focused activities in SALA tend to lead to a special bond among the cohort.
“We truly did connect with one another and have a very rich discussions about different perspectives that drove us to leadership,” McKinley-Brighton Administrative Intern Janel Milana said. “We talked about the importance of understanding that there are many different perspectives that we will encounter as leaders and that we need to understand what other people may be thinking and feeling in order to respond in a way that makes our school successful.”
If you are interested in joining next year’s cohort of SALA leaders, please visit for an application. Applications must be submitted by August 31, 2018. Applicants must be tenured SCSD employees and must be currently enrolled in a CAS program. For more information, please contact Jeannie Aversa, Coordinator of Educator Effectiveness, at (315)435-4171 or via email,