SUNY Plattsburgh at Queensbury Teams Up With Local School Districts to Build Leaders

Steve Danna 01The notion of a solitary Superman or Superwoman heading up a school doesn’t hold water any more, according to SUNY Plattsburgh Branch Campus Dean Steve Danna. That’s why he has collaborated with four local districts to write “Strengthening Teacher Leader Effectiveness” grants. These provide schools the means to train a league of heroes who can band together and forge direction as a team. The grants support Common Core implementation and Annual Professional Performance Review evaluating methods while providing career pathways for educators with the strongest demonstrated performance. Through the grants, these “Teacher Leaders” are provided the skills necessary to help colleagues become better, more confident educators. They use cognitive coaching — gathering data, collecting information and leading monthly discussions to create new strategies.

SUNY Plattsburgh benefits too: Graduate students and professors help provide professional development services, including evidence-based classroom observation; curriculum-writing models; data-driven instruction; Common Core literacy and mathematics teaching strategies; and the application of brain research to instruction. A portion of the grant also provides student teachers at SUNY Plattsburgh the opportunity to work in these districts.

So far, these $80,000-$120,000 grants have been awarded to Fort Ann, Cambridge, Warrensburg and Broadalbin-Perth central school districts. They are two-year grants, but districts are welcome to re-apply.

“We believe that teacher leadership is essential for all districts to meet the needs of 21st century schools,” Danna said. “We have very competent teachers who can assume greater leadership responsibilities… and that’s what we seek to do: to develop those skill sets, their knowledge, their confidence and their sense of grit.”

View a video on the program at

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