Aubree Mills had two dilemmas she needed to address: One was recruiting and retaining good teachers at the Ira A. Murphy Elementary School in Peoria, Arizona, where she serves as principal. The other was elevating the achievement scores for her students. To move the needle on both, she enrolled in Harvard’s Certificate in School Management and Leadership (CSML), a joint offering that integrates the research, teaching, and expertise of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and Harvard Business School (HBS).
“With these courses, you’re examining ‘How can I shift the way people think?’” explains Mills. “I came away with research-based strategies I could immediately use.”
As Mills considers the complexities of a school administrator’s job, she says it’s not enough to be just a great manager or instructional leader. “You have to be able to marry the two because you can’t have one without the other and truly effect change in a school.” She chose to participate in CSML because of the belief that a strong leader with the right training can have an impact on those around her.
In her role as an elementary-school principal, Mills says that she has used the insights she has gained from the CSML program to help navigate issues wrought by the pandemic: “With the increased demands of leading a campus through the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19, the ability to triage needs, inspire hope, and develop robust response plans have become routine expectations for school administrators.”
About the Certificate in School Management and Leadership
Each course contains case studies featuring real leaders in education and business, specifically chosen from a diverse cross-section of schools and businesses spanning the country. These “case protagonists” confront a variety of challenges in urban, suburban, and rural public schools, as well as private, faith-based, and charter contexts. Featured protagonists hail from states and areas such as Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin.
Faculty from both schools teach CSML courses, providing Harvard research purposely adapted to the PreK-12 learning environment. Participants are organized into cohorts of 25 based on a wide range of backgrounds, school models, and geographic locations. Mirroring the HBS classroom experience, participants in each cohort collaborate to discuss the cases, work on individual problems of practice, and interact with one another about the issues and struggles they encounter as school leaders.
The courses are asynchronous, so participants have the flexibility to fit an average of 4–5 hours of coursework per week into their busy schedules. Each course lasts four weeks and is offered four times a year on the interactive HBS Online platform. Through collaboration and self-reflection, participants finish each course with a tailored playbook customized to their individual needs.
“We have three goals for the program,” explains Monique Burns Thompson, Faculty Co-Chair of CSML. “We want to build a high-quality, professional learning opportunity, distribute it in a way that’s accessible and compelling, and enable school leaders to be more effective, efficient, and accomplished at leading learning communities.”
- 11,000+ enrollments
- 125 Countries and territories represented
- 54 U.S. states and territories represented
- 90% satisfaction rating
- 97% completion rate