Two NT Teachers Earn a Place
at UB Leadership Program
Megan Lundgren and Laurie Widman believe in the power of public education. Both feel a pull to the students they teach in the North Tonawanda City School District, and both aspire to influence their students “beyond the four walls of the classroom.”
Through a New York State Education Department Strengthening Teacher Leader Effectiveness (STLE-D) grant, the North Tonawanda City School District partnered with the University at Buffalo. As a result of that partnership, both women were given the opportunity to achieve their goal as aspiring leaders.
They will enter UB’s Leadership Initiative for Tomorrow’s School “LIFTS” program, an administrative education and mentoring program designed to reach out into local schools in a very real way: train better administrators, then encourage them to return to their home district to put their new skills to use, all for the sake of the students.
The two future administrators see their LIFTS admission as the fortunate boost they need to put their passions into practical use.
“All of us in LIFTS want to embrace the further knowledge of a district leader and get that knowledge under our belts,” says Widman, who has taught business courses for 11 years, the last nine at North Tonawanda.
“This grant provides us the opportunity to shadow a district administrator and we are pulled out of our classroom one day a week. Other administrative candidates will have to wait for their internship to have that opportunity.”
Lundgren, a special education teacher in North Tonawanda for the last five years, wants to stay in the classroom a few more years. Her future plan is to be like those “wonderful” school principals she knows who help make learning easier for staff and students.
“The fact some of the program’s instructors are local administrators adds another layer,” says Lundgren. “It makes what you are learning more ‘real.’ ”
They received nothing but support from their home school district. Laurie Kay Burger, Director of Personnel for the North Tonawanda City School District – a recipient of the STLE -- reached out to Thomas Ramming, clinical associate professor in UB’s Graduate School of Education and LIFTS coordinator. This paved the way for North Tonawanda City School District’s aspiring teacher leaders to become sponsored candidates in the LIFTS program.
“I know that both candidates are going to experience a rigorous program at UB that prepares leaders to solve problem, and be reflective,” says Burger, a UB LIFTS graduate herself. “The reputation of this program is unbelievable.”
“We are thrilled with the opportunity to partner with North Tonawanda in developing leaders for tomorrow's schools,” says Ramming. “Research shows that, next to teachers, principals have the most impact on improving student learning. Our school leader program focuses on preparing leaders to leverage their potential to make a difference."
Ramming said admission to the LIFTS program occurs after a thorough review of application materials and an interview with two LIFTS faculty. This selective admissions process and rigorous program requirements have resulting in over 70 percent of LIFTS graduates securing positions is school leadership.
“I have no doubt we are sending teachers that can be future administrators for the North Tonawanda City School District,” says Burger. “It’s a great investment for us, to take teacher leaders and grow them through UB for administration.”