Curriculum and Instruction

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2018 Programs

Sarasota County Leadership Programs 2018

District Overview

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. (John F. Kennedy)

Sarasota County Public School District’s commitment to Leadership Development began in 2002 with a Leadership Development Grant funded by The Bank of America Foundation. Over the past fifteen years, the school district has developed a comprehensive, tiered, job-embedded leadership model that has provided high quality leadership training, mentoring/coaching, and support along a defined career pathway.  The school district has been deliberate and systemic in their approach with programs that benefit teachers, aspiring administrators, and school-based leaders. The programs and practices are continually updated from the initial identification of talent to ensuring career-long learning through professional development. An intentional and mindful approach to supporting the development of educational leaders throughout their professional careers is critical to those who aspire to educational leadership and those who comprise the ranks of current administrative position. (Hitt, Tucker & Young, 2012).

The job of the school principal has reached a new height of demand and complexity.  The myriad roles and responsibilities expected of leaders are daunting.  The exhausting demand for their time, judgment and content expertise requires a rigorous investment in continuous professional learning.  Principals are expected not only to know what constitutes good teaching and learning, but they are expected to coach, guide, and evaluate teachers as the profession continues to change refining educational knowledge and practice.  The expectation of annual learning gains for ALL students requires highly effective teachers and administrators. 

Preparation for the Principalship begins early on as school board employees first explore leadership careers.  Since the strongest area of focus is always instructional leadership, we seek highly effective teachers. Individuals with strong instructional backgrounds are better able to relate to and lead teachers, and identify and model effective classroom practices (Hitt, Tucker, & Young, 2012). Each of the sequential leadership development programs is crafted to ensure they are aligned to the Florida Principal Leadership Standards and Indicators. They are job-embedded, collaborative, hands-on, and application-based with frequent opportunities for reflection. 

Most of what principals learn about how to do the work isn’t learned in college, but is learned in practice (Crow from interview with Richard Elmore, 2008). “The real constraint to this kind of practice is not pre-service training; it’s the capacity of people to create school systems that support this kind of work, because that’s where people are going to learn how to do this [work]” (p.44). 

Developing leaders with knowledge, skills, and judgment that Elmore calls for requires doing more than simply telling leaders what to do. It requires that they know when to use specific leadership responsibilities and why using those particular leadership responsibilities in a certain situation is important:  McREL’s knowledge taxonomy captures this idea and highlights the types of knowledge that leaders need in order to develop true professional wisdom:  

  • Declarative: knowing what to do
  • Procedural: knowing how to do it
  • Contextual: knowing when to do it
  • Experiential: knowing why it is important

Effective leaders certainly master the declarative and procedural knowledge, but they also go beyond that to the skillful application of contextual and experiential knowledge (Lyons, Schumacher, Cameron, 2008).

All Sarasota County’s leadership programs emphasize continuous job-embedded professional growth and learning. Participants engage in a structured, highly interactive, rigorous, and individualized program of learning. Throughout the Level 2 programs, all candidates develop and provide a portfolio of evidence of attainment of the Florida Principal Leadership Standards and Indicators. 

Overview of the Pre-SP3 Curriculum

To support our own people to become successful candidates for our Level II School Principal Preparation Program, we currently offer three pre-service Level I programs for our Aspiring Leaders: ExCEL Program, Leadership Academy and Aspiring Administrative Intern Program.

  • The ExCEL Program (Exploring Careers in Educational Leadership) is an opportunity to explore the careers of assistant principal, principal, district leader, or teacher leader positions with or without degrees in Educational Leadership.  Participants learn more about their own personal leadership style, develop a vision, and gain a realistic perspective of challenges facing leaders in education today. Sarasota County School District Employees eligible for the ExCEL program include teacher leaders and other interested employees who are currently enrolled in an education leadership program or who want to learn more about leadership opportunities in the district.  The program consists of seven 3-hour sessions, and there is no formal application process. 
  • The Leadership Academy is for teachers and other district staff aspiring to become administrators. The Leadership Academy is a two-year intensive program using a cohort model for aspiring school and district-based administrators who have earned an advanced degree in Educational Leadership or related field and have passed the FELE. The program extends the university experience emphasizing the application of learning in a real-world context. The focus centers on three types of leadership: instructional, operational, and global/situational. The engaging curriculum is problem-based, interactive and involves action research. There is a heavy coaching emphasis, leadership immersion activities, and a school/department-based action research project. Successful completion of the Leadership Academy entitles participants to priority consideration for Administrative Internships as well as the opportunity to interview for Assistant Principal vacancies. Formal application is required. A principal or other district administrator must sponsor the participant ensuring that they are provided high quality leadership experiences.
  • The Aspiring Administrator Intern Program offers a professional growth opportunity specifically designed to provide Leadership Academy graduates, or participants, first-hand experiences in school administration. This opportunity is also available to aspiring administrators with Educational Leadership certification.  Participants serve in temporary Assistant Principal vacancies for a period of three to twelve months.  If the Aspiring Administrator Internship is 12 weeks or less, the intern’s position can be filled by a substitute, and the intern will return to his/her previous cost center upon completion of the internship. If the Aspiring Administrator Internship extends beyond 12 weeks, the length of the internship will be extended to the end of the school year. The intern returns to his/her previous cost center in accordance with Article XXII - Unpaid Leave of Absence, Section II, F 2 of the Instructional Bargaining Unit Collective Bargaining Agreement between the SC/TA and the SCSB. Formal application for the program is required.

Level 2 Programs – School Principal Preparation Program (SP3)

Prior to beginning the School Principal Preparation Program (SP3), candidates must be assistant principals for at least two years, and they must apply for admittance. The rigorous selection criteria are shown on page 6 of this document. New principals hired from out of state or who haven’t completed a state approved School Principal Preparation Program must participate to meet the program requirements, which they document in a portfolio.


The purpose of the Level II School Principal Preparation Program is to ensure that Sarasota County Public Schools has a highly skilled cadre of assistant principals who have demonstrated their proficiency for each of the Florida Principal Leadership Standards through the use of concrete examples of applied professional learning in the real-world contexts of schools. Successful completers of the program earn principal certification in the state of Florida. In order to be recommended for Principal Certification, program completers must demonstrate the application of their professional learning through careful selection of at least 28 artifacts that are aligned to the domains, standards, and indicators.

Goals of the SP3:

  • Recruit and retain school leaders who have demonstrated: success as a highly effective classroom teacher; leading adults in educational settings; significant interpersonal skills; and a passion/commitment to addressing the issues and challenges associated with managing and coaching adults.
  • Provide continuous robust, job-embedded professional learning opportunities to ensure school leaders are fully prepared to serve as a highly qualified and effective instructional role models by focusing on district priorities, using research-based practices based on annual data trends.
  • Offer learning opportunities that facilitate the development of collaborative relationships and collective efficacy.
  • Provide specific feedback and support to maximize learning and promote professional improvement.
  • Use data about candidate’s performance for selection, demonstration of proficiency in relation to the standards, program improvement, and retention once hired as a Principal or Assistant Principal.

Overview of the SP3 Curriculum

SP3 encompasses multiple years of on-going professional learning, field experiences, coaching and mentoring. The program is comprised of components that are standards-focused, assessment-driven, and learner-centered resulting in a portfolio inclusive of one or more artifacts for every standard and every indicator. The development of the portfolio results from job-embedded application, multiple feedback loops, and on-going reflection.  Field experiences are determined in collaboration with the principal to collectively provide evidence of proficiency for all ten Florida Principal Leadership Standards and 50 indicators. The Executive Directors for Elementary, Middle, and High School review the field experiences for alignment with standards and indicators. Sarasota County’s competency-based framework is defined by the direct focus on the Florida Principal Leadership Standards (FPLS) in combination with our district’s rubrics for assessment of a final portfolio tied to these standards and indicators.

The SP3 curriculum is currently delivered through three programs: 1) Collaborative Leadership Induction Program (CLI), 2) Preparing New Principals (PNP), and 3) Assistant Principal District Professional Learning.

Collaborative Leadership Induction Program (CLI) is an intensive learning program specifically designed to support new administrators with a focus on operational and instructional competencies necessary to be successful in their new leadership roles.

As students become practitioners, approaching the transition in a supportive way has implications for the individual’s early development and socialization into the profession as well as the well-being of the organization. The induction phase of the pipeline plays a critical role in maximizing retention of the new practitioner and yields organizational benefit for the school (Ingersoll, R., & Strong, M., 2011).

A Simulation/Scenario Model is currently being used for the instructional design of the sessions to promote a more interactive, problem-based format. Administrators from one or more departments work collaboratively with participants to unpack challenging situations allowing them to apply critical pieces of new information to experiences they may encounter as assistant principals and then as principals.

Preparing New Principals is a two-year culminating program, and upon successful completion, candidates are prepared to serve as school principals of K-12 schools. The focus of this program is application and demonstration of proficiency for each of the Florida Principal Leadership Domains, Standards and Indicators through a portfolio of evidence/artifacts. A Quality and Accountability Team meets semi-annually to evaluate progress toward eligibility for School Principal Certification. Prior to beginning the Preparing New Principal program, assistant principals must apply for admittance, and the criteria for admittance are described in this report. 

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Curriculum and Instruction

Kelly Ellington, Elementary School
Sue Meckler, Middle School
Catherine Cocozza, High School
Lakedra Barber, Administrative Assistant

Phone: 941-927-9000, ext. 34101
Fax: 941-927-4023
1960 Landings Boulevard
Sarasota, Florida 34231
Maroon 3rd Floor

Catherine Richter, Bookkeeper
Phone: 941-927-9000, ext. 32232
1960 Landings Boulevard
Sarasota, Florida 34231

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