The Mary Jane Patterson Fellowship 

DCPS Leadership Development Program for Aspiring Principals


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Who is Mary Jane Patterson?

After becoming the first African American woman to earn a bachelor’s degree, Mary Jane Patterson became a successful teacher and was later appointed as the first black principal at Paul Lawrence Dunbar, America’s first public high school for black students. Her unequivocal belief in student learning and teacher development inspired the creation of a teacher training program.  Shaping the learning trajectory of students and teachers was at the core of Mary Jane Patterson’s belief system and continues to serve as a cornerstone of all that DCPS strives for today.  As we prepare to launch the Mary Jane Patterson Fellowship, we bring honor to her name and remember her legacy.

What is the Patterson Fellowship?

The Mary Jane Patterson Fellowship is a DCPS-inspired leadership program that will prepare talented, resilient, high potential DCPS employees for one of the most important roles of our time – the school principalship.

This Fellowship will be a rigorous leadership training program designed with targeted guidance and expert input from some of DCPS’s highly respected leaders. Program and curriculum design will be aligned to research and drawn from education and business best practices. Our immediate goal is to provide high-quality preparation for school leadership. Upon successful completion of the program, Patterson Fellowship graduates will engage in a comprehensive selection and matching process for principal positions. The long-term goal is to weave the Patterson Fellowship into other internal DCPS leadership pipelines so we can prepare talented DCPS employees for leadership positions at all levels of the organization.

Who is eligible for this Fellowship?

Aspiring school leaders who are…

  • Social justice oriented
  • Instructionally knowledgeable
  • Persistent, resourceful, and resilient
  • Strong facilitators of information and learning
  • Organized, system-level thinkers, able to analyze data
  • Eager to receive and act upon feedback
  • Self-propelled, continual learners

Additional requirements include…

  • A commitment to DCPS students and families
  • Current DCPS employment
  • Master’s degree
  • Two years classroom instruction
  • Firmly seeking principalship for SY 2014-15
  • Willingness to serve 3-5 years as principal

If I apply and am admitted into this Fellowship, what can I expect as a Fellow?

  • An 18-month intensive, cohort-based learning journey designed to bring 12-15 high-potential, high-performing DCPS employees to the next levels of personal leadership
  • A structured, research-driven, cutting-edge program aligned to best education and business practices
  • A set of skill-building activities designed to launch aspiring principals into effective school leadership
  • A comprehensive learning experience built around a purposeful residency and well-supported first-year principalship
  • An organization-wide effort to develop, support, and retain DCPS’s highest performing employees

How can I learn more?

Email Rhoda.Mhiripiri-Reed@dc.gov, Director of the Patterson Fellowship

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