Real world: Deloitte, SFUSD partner to train 'Courageous Principals'

By | San Francisco Business Times

The real world of the classroom will meet the real world of the cubicle in a program tailored by accounting and consulting firm Deloitte and leading off with San Francisco Unified School District principals and administrators.

The program, unveiled Thursday morning and funded in part by a private grant to the district, will send 60 SFUSD principals, assistant principals and administrators to Deloitte University near Dallas for three days of training June 6-8.

Along with Foundation's $2.7 million gift last year to the San Francisco school district, the Deloitte program is one of a handful of projects coming out of years of spade work by SFUSD to get the San Francisco business community — especially tech companies— to work with the district.

But SFUSD Superintendent Richard Carranza said programs like Deloitte's go beyond "bake sales or the donation of 50 computers" to forge a strategic partnership.

"Deloitte came in and said, 'This is what we do. How can that work with what the district needs?'" Carranza said.

Deloitte has invested about $1 million developing the "Courageous Principals" program and paying for trainers, the facility and program materials, said Teresa Briggs, the firm's West region and San Francisco managing partner.

"People have asked, 'Why principals?'" Briggs said. "With principals you get a multiplier effect" that creates "ripples of leadership" that extend to teachers and staff, students and the community at large, she said.

The contingent contingent from 57,000-student SFUSD is the first to go through the program, which works with the New Teacher Center, a national nonprofit organization based in Santa Cruz. Houston, Chicago and New York will send principals later in June and July.

Deloitte piloted the program last summer with 50 principals from four states.

As the program connects school leaders with top officials from the business, public sector and not-for-profit arenas, Deloitte’s curriculum focuses on understanding personality types, how to communicate effectively and how to have difficult conversations. It is the same curriculum used internally by Deloitte.

"I like the name, 'Courageous Principals,'" Carranza said, "because principals have to have courageous conversations all day long."

The program ultimately could help "the Mesopotamia of innovation" called San Francisco develop a future wave of entrepreneurs, Carranza said.

For Edward Robeson Taylor Elementary Principal Marlene Callejas, the program is an opportunity to meet people who think differently about “problems of practice and management style.”

“I want to find out from managers what they’re looking for,” said Callejas, adding that schools already have adopted business-like practices where teachers are more like facilitators for conversations in the classroom.
“I want to see if I’m on the right path,” she said.

Callejas is in her third year leading E.R. Taylor, in the city’s Portola neighborhood. The school has 720 students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, 36 teachers and 50 other staff members. Its morning announcements in the school’s courtyard are done in English, Spanish and Cantonese.

The school bought Apple iPads this year to connect students to technology and started a breakfast program because staff found that several students were arriving for the 9 a.m. start of the school day without having eaten.

“I have friends in corporations who can’t believe what we do,” said Callejas, who is in her 32 nd year with SFUSD. “They have their day planners and they check the boxes, but if I get to do three things that I planned at the beginning of the day, that’s something.”