NEW YORK – A Fordham Graduate School of Education (GSE) program is preparing public school teachers to become effective school leaders, addressing a national crisis in which too few qualified candidates are available to fill principal and assistant principal jobs. The two-year training program, called VIA (Visionary, Instructional and Administrative), mixes hands-on experience with the latest developments and research in school improvement and leadership. “Fordham is making a strong commitment to producing the next generation of leaders for metropolitan New York area schools,” said Lew Smith, Ph.D., director of VIA. Greater demands on school administrators to implement standards-based reform, inadequate professional development programs, an aging workforce and low pay in urban schools all contribute to the leadership crisis, Smith said. What’s more, half of the principals in New York City’s 1,145 public schools are not tenured, Smith said, pointing to the lack of experience and qualifications of those overseeing the education of 1 million students. The program was developed by GSE faculty in collaboration with New York City public school superintendents. Courses introduce students to the dual roles of the principal as a manager/administrator and instructional leader. In the first semester of the program, the group takes “Fundamentals of Educational Administration” and “Managing the Teaching/Learning Process.” Group projects, shadowing experiences and full-time internships also are highlights of the program. VIA graduates receive either a professional diploma or, with an additional course and project, a master’s degree in educational administration. Graduates also will be eligible for New York state certification as school administrators and supervisors, having completed the required coursework. Students pay one-third of tuition costs, their districts pay one-third, and a Fordham scholarship covers the remaining third. VIA 2000 students come from public school districts in the Bronx and Manhattan. Classes are held at Rose Hill and Lincoln Center. The 2001 program, with 93 enrollees, has expanded to include students from Brooklyn, Yonkers and Newburgh, with classes at the Tarrytown campus and St. Francis College. More than 150 students are expected to enroll in VIA 2002. The first class of 42 VIA students will graduate in May.