Supporting Education Leaders in Puerto Rico

The Oversight Board has kicked off the Spring 2023 session of the Education Leadership Development Program, a joint initiative with the Education Department (PRDE) that provides mid-career professionals at central and regional offices the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and professional knowledge.

The program, which started last year, will support Puerto Rico’s education reform and milestones in the Fiscal Plan for Puerto Rico and will enhance the skills of 10 PRDE employees to lead and implement strategic initiatives.

Twelve workshops between January and June focus on strengthening personal leadership, and promoting equity, strategic thinking, change management, and community engagement.

During the inaugural workshop, participants reflected on their own leadership journey, including challenges they faced and successes they achieved. Edwin Medina, Special Assistant to the Superintendent of Arecibo Region, said the first time he felt successful was when his first high school class graduated in Lares, in 2019.

“I was the history teacher at the Gabriela Mistral High School in Lares. The school is in Barrio Castañer, one of the most rural parts of Lares and many of the students come from households who are low income, whose families are farmers,” Medina said.

The graduating class of fewer than 50 students received much support from their relatives and their close-knit community. “I felt very proud to see these students succeed in a challenging environment,” he said.

Seeing Puerto Rico’s public-school students succeed drives the participants of the Education Leadership Development Program. A successful education system has a ripple effect on the rest Puerto Rico’s society overall and drives economic growth.

The challenges are considerable. Puerto Rico has chronically low standardized test scores for students at various grade levels, and student enrollment continues to drop as families leave to live elsewhere. In the current fiscal year 2023 alone, public school enrollment declined by 11,000 students.

Addressing student performance and demographics are among the agency’s top priorities, and the participants of the Education Leadership Development Program will be key to better lead and serve the island’s public school students. The Oversight Board will continue to work with PRDE to improve Puerto Rico’s public school system.

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