Rider's teacher leadership program to offer new state endorsement

Rider among first institutions authorized to offer endorsement
Keith Fernbach

Rider University’s teacher leadership program has received approval from the New Jersey Department of Education to grant a teacher leader state endorsement to graduates of the program.

This newly created endorsement was approved by the state in November, and Rider was among the first schools authorized to grant it. Nearly half of all states now offer endorsements in the rapidly growing field of teacher leadership.

“This endorsement can enable our students to have more opportunities and greater flexibility in their career paths,” says Judith Stegmaier-Nappi, the director of Rider’s Teacher Leadership program. “Many of our students are recognized as ‘informal’ teacher leaders in their schools or districts. An Endorsement in Teacher Leadership will provide more credence to their work and allow them to reach more students and teachers utilizing their leadership skills.

Rider’s teacher leadership program is designed for educators who are looking to take on greater responsibility in their classrooms, schools and districts. Available as both a master’s or certificate program, it covers topics including how to coach and mentor new teachers, implement teacher evaluation systems, use data analysis to make decisions, and develop curricula. Students who complete the seven-course (21-credit) teacher leadership core, which includes a 120-hour internship, will now be eligible to receive the endorsement.

To receive this distinction, Rider had to go through a rigorous approval process that included a description of all curriculum and instructional content, as well as explanations of how the courses align to the Teacher Leader Model Standards and how each course is assessed. Once submitted, multiple agencies reviewed the application, including the Office of Recruitment, Preparation, and Recognition; the Office of Certification; and the State Program Approval Council.

“We continually strive to be at the forefront when it comes to preparing the next generation of educators and leaders in our schools,” says Sharon Sherman, dean of Rider’s College of Education and Human Services. “The fact that our teacher leadership program is being formally recognized by the state is a testament to the outstanding instruction provided by our faculty and the first-rate curriculum we offer our students.”

Stegmaier-Nappi says the field of teacher leadership is becoming increasingly important because more and more, a team effort is required for a school system to thrive.

“In today’s climate, it’s really unreasonable to expect the principal or any one person to be able to do everything that’s required to bring a school to its full potential,” she says. “Shared leadership recognizes the positive attributes of others — including teachers and stakeholders — and draws upon them to work in conjunction with one another for the improvement of the school.”

Stegmaier-Nappi draws upon her own experience as a classroom teacher and administrator to teach her students the importance of risk-taking, collaboration and innovation in educational settings.

“In order to help students reach their full potential, I think leaders have to support risk taking and sharing of ideas, both on the part of the faculty, administration, and students,” she says. “And I think that when we work together as a team we’re more successful in doing that.”

Yuliya Tsypenyuk ‘18, who earned her Master of Arts in Teacher Leadership from Rider, says she chose the program because she wanted to make a greater contribution in her role as a junior high school math teacher.

“I work in a small district with few positions outside of teaching, so I wanted a graduate degree to help me tackle necessary roles that other districts may hire others to do, such as curriculum writing,” she says.

She adds that earning a master’s has not only led to her supervisors seeing her in a new light but she now feels more self-assured in her own abilities, as well.

“My administration has started to see me in a different light and given me more responsibility and leadership within the building,” she says. “And while I often was willing to take on different tasks and roles, I think this program has given me more confidence in my leadership within the school.”

Additional information about Rider’s Teacher Leadership program can be found at