Private Schools

November 29, 2000 2 min read

Interreligious Partners: In an unusual marriage of interests, a Roman Catholic university will begin training administrators for Jewish day schools.

Announcing a partnership last month, Loyola University of Chicago’s school of education and the Jewish Education Leadership Institute unveiled plans to meld traditional coursework in school administration with training tailored to the management of religious schools.

Graduates will receive master’s degrees in educational administration from Loyola and certification as day school principals from the institute.

“Often in Jewish day schools, the best teachers become principals. They are battlefield promotions,” said George Hanus, the chairman of the nonprofit, Chicago-based institute. “What we’re attempting to do is create professional educators versed and trained in the pedagogy of educational administration.”

Margaret Fong, the dean of Loyola’s education school, said the partnership would make a program that had focused almost exclusively on public schools more inclusive by expanding that training to include management of religious schools.

Candidates will be team-taught, with Loyola instructors teaching the leadership, administrative, and pedagogical skills needed in both public and private schools, Ms. Fong said. Institute teachers will focus on knowledge specific to running Jewish day schools, such as working with a board of directors and religious leaders.

The program, set to begin next July, can accommodate 35 participants. It will last two summers and include a six-week internship with a current Jewish day school principal.

The leadership institute was created this year to address the shortage of qualified administrators that Jewish day schools—like many schools, public and private—are experiencing, Mr. Hanus said.

Rabbi Joshua Elkin, the executive director of the Boston-based Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education, said he believes that the program is the first in which a non-Jewish university has offered training for administrators of Jewish schools. He praised the partners for recognizing the importance of training leaders for private as well as public schools.

Ms. Fong said the university hopes to expand its training to administrators of all types of private schools, consistent with the Jesuit university’s dedication to the principles of social justice.

“There has been a resurgence of parochial education in America, so the leadership issue is very important,” she said. “Making sure every child has a good education is a fundamental part of fairness and equity.”

—Catherine Gewertz

A version of this article appeared in the November 29, 2000 edition of Education Week