Lessons in leadership


    Kids aren’t the only ones back at school this fall in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Thanks to a new leadership education and development program known as LEAD, selected instructors are learning to become principals close to home.

    LEAD sponsors a two-year course toward a preliminary administrative credential from California State University at Northridge.

    “The thought is to grow administrators from within the district,” says Rick Bagley, director of human resources for the SM-MUSD. “We recruited candidates who showed leadership potential and those who expressed interest in career enhancement.”

    The program kicked off in mid-August with a two-day retreat at Casa de Maria, a Jesuit monastery in Montecito. The 25 students, all of whom have at least five years teaching experience, attend class every Wednesday from 4 to 10 p.m. at Olympic Continuation High School in Santa Monica. A few Saturday workshops and additional evening programs are offered throughout the year.

    Acting as university liaison is Christa Metzger, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Educational Administration and Policy Studies at CSUN. Metzger, a former superintendent, teaches human resources management to LEAD participants. Malibu High School Principal Mike Matthews presides over supervision and evaluation of teachers, the second course offered this semester.

    Harry Keiley, a Malibu High instructor of world history, American government and economics, is Malibu’s representative in the LEAD program.

    “We are provided a great opportunity,” says Keiley. “They make it very easy for us in terms of bringing the school to Santa Monica.” Keiley makes his home there. “I hope to gain a better understanding of the demands and challenges facing administrators.”

    As an executive board member of the local teachers’ union and representative to the state council of the California Teachers Association, he values a chance to sit on the other side of the table. Keiley was involved in district contract negotiations that were settled in July. Pay increases for teachers become effective in February.

    “We’re not crying poverty, but we have to work together (with administrators) to lobby state legislatures to better fund public schools,” he says. “California used to be a model in per pupil spending.

    “It’s more important to spend money to educate the populace than to incarcerate them later on. In recent decades we have built more prisons in California than we have schools. That has been the priority.

    “The goal is to raise the quality of our profession and to understand the full dynamic of what it takes to work together cooperatively whenever possible. Despite our differences last year, I continue to believe that the SM-MUSD is a great district to work for.”

    The New York City native started his teaching career at Brooklyn Tech High School 10 years ago. During eight years with the SM-MUSD, he earned a master’s degree in educational psychology from Loyola Marymount.

    Keiley is clear about motivating his students to become civic-minded. “You give kids a sense that there is a system in which we live, and that it is possible to raise consciousness within that system. You help them see the consequences of apathy, because they will see what happens in society if they don’t get involved. [Most important,] you help them discover the issue that they are passionate about.”