Teacher high giving students

Project LEADER

Preparing Next-Generation Leaders for the Diverse Schools of Tomorrow

Project LEADER is a federally funded project aimed to improve teaching and learning by supporting creative and exemplary pedagogy and practices for English learners (ELs). The project is a collaboration between St. John’s University and schools in New York City and surrounding counties with high EL populations.

The project addresses the shortage of qualified and state certified school building leaders who have leadership expertise and certification in upgrading, reforming, and restructuring TESOL/bilingual programs. Leaders are needed who can implement effective literacy practices, including digital literacy, academic literacy, family literacy, and parental involvement strategies.

Participating teachers (project scholars) undertake a rigorous program to prepare for leadership positions that encourage them to assume more responsibility. They will also be prepared to serve as catalysts for positive change who can effectively respond to diversity needs in the schools in which they serve. Project scholars develop abilities to engage in school-based management; shared, data-based, decision-making; team building; parent, family, and community engagement; as well as conflict resolution, to improve the quality of education for ELs.

Project LEADER provides tuition assistance at 75%* to teachers who enroll and complete a paired certification program in School Building Leadership (SBL) and in TESOL (pre-K–12) or in the Bilingual Education Extension from St. John’s University.

* Scholarships are contingent upon federal funding, academic performance and participation in project activities.

About Project LEADER

Project LEADER has the following goals:

Improve the quantity and quality of potential school building leaders with strong backgrounds in TESOL, bilingual education, and school leadership.a

Improve instructional practices, policies, and student outcomes in the high-need schools with ELs.

Promote data-driven literacy by providing families with literacy development activities, including digital literacy, to support their children’s academic achievement and reading development. 

Disseminate the best practices of bilingual and TESOL pedagogies for developing effective academic literacy, the latest educational technologies, team building, collaboration, decision-making, conflict resolution, mentoring, and site-based management.

Project scholars complete a 12-course program with 22 credits in SBL and 15 credits in TESOL or in the Bilingual Education Extension, which takes approximately 2.5 years to complete. The courses are offered online. Project scholars are assigned a University supervisor (mentor) who visits them in the schools in which they serve while meeting with them regularly to discuss their progress, offer assistance, and help them achieve program goals.

New York State Advanced Certificate in School Building Leadership(SBL)—22 graduate credits (All courses are three graduate credits except the capstone course, which is one credit.)

EDU 5301 Leadership Values, Decision-Making, and Multicultural Organization

EDU 5415 Introduction to Education Administration

EDU 5650 School-Based Data Analysis

EDU 5701 Curriculum and Teaching: Theories into Practice

EDU 5741 Finance in Education

EDU 5761 School Business Administration for Administrators and Supervisors

EDU 5950 School Building Leader Administrative Internship

EDU 5499 General Review and New York State Qualifying Exam Preparation for the Advanced Certificate in School Building Leadership

New York State Advanced Certificate in TESOL (Pre-K–12)—15 graduate credits (All courses are three graduate credits.)

EDU 9002 Psychology and Sociology of Language and Bilingualism

EDU 9003 Literacy Development for First and Second Language Learners

EDU 9004 Content Area Instruction for Linguistically/Culturally Diverse Learners

EDU 9010 Linguistics for Teachers of English Language Learners and Exceptional Learners

EDU 9012 Methods of Language and Academic Assessment for English Language and Exceptional Learners

New York State Advanced Certificate in Bilingual Education(Pre-K–12)—15 graduate credits (All courses are three graduate credits.)

EDU 9002 Psychology and Sociology of Language and Bilingualism

EDU 9005 Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and Dual-Language Instruction

EDU 9009 Teaching Strategies in the ESL and Bilingual Classroom: Science, Mathematics, and Social Studies

EDU 9010 Linguistics for Teachers of English Language and Exceptional Learners

EDU 9012 Methods of Language and Academic Assessment for English Language and Exceptional Learners

Project scholars are selected based on academic excellence and commitment to equity.

Applicants must

(a) hold a New York State teacher certificate;

(b) have a minimum grade point average of 3.0;

(c) hold a master’s degree in education or a related field;

(d) submit two letters of recommendation from two supervisors.

Application due dates:

The selection of competitive candidates and scholarship awards is made on a rolling admission basis. Seats are limited; it is highly recommended that you submit your application no later than April 30, 2022, for the first cohort and no later than April 30, 2024, for the second cohort.

For more information, please complete the interest form. You will be contacted by a project staff member.

Attend one of the upcoming webinars for potential applicants on Zoom:

February 17 at 7:30 p.m.: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/76913734742
March 10 at 7:30 p.m.: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/79963198456

Seokhee Cho, Ph.D., Coproject
DirectorProfessor, Department of Administration and Instructional Leadership

John N. Spiridakis, J.D., Ph.D., Coproject Director
Professor and Chair, Department of Education Specialties


Angelo Gatto, Ph.D., External Evaluator
Chief Executive Officer, Education Research Advantages, LLC

Jordan Gonzalez, Ph.D., Bilingual Family and Community Literacy Coordinator
Assistant Professor, TESOL and Bilingual Education Programs, Department of Education Specialties

Sonmi Jo, Ph.D., Research Director
Adjunct Professor, Department of Administration and Instructional Leadership

Stephen Kotok, Ph.D., Leadership Mentor Coordinator
Assistant Professor, Department of Administration and Instructional Leadership

Audrey Figueroa Murphy, Ed.D., Coordinator of TESOL and Bilingual Education Graduate Programs
Associate Professor, Department of Education Specialties

Jenny Yang, Ed.D., Research Coordinator
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Institute for Core Studies

Contact Information

For questions regarding the project and grant-related matters, please contact Seokhee Cho, Ph.D., at chos1@stjohns.edu or John N. Spiridakis, Ph.D., at spiridaj@stjohns.edu.

For questions about applying to be a project scholar, please contact Stephen Kotok, Ph.D., at kotoks@stjohns.edu.

For questions regarding project events and webinars, please contact Jenny Yang, Ed.D., at yangj1@stjohns.edu.