School leadership is a uniquely complex and demanding calling -- especially at the principal position -- with primary responsibility for the hands-on leadership of teachers and pupils. These leaders must deal with financial problems, public relations, the sensitivities of a professional workforce, and the demands of the public and its politicians for accountability. At the same time, they must imagine new and better ways of doing things and inspire similar creativity in others. And most important, they must relate to and care deeply for children at the moments of their greatest vulnerability and greatest promise.
Recent studies have indicated that traditional graduate programs in educational leadership are unfocused and undemanding, incoherent, and ineffective. This critical situation calls out for a new and better way of attracting and preparing school leaders for success in this crucial and noble calling. The Gerstacker Fellowship Program will develop leadership skills, lift potential leaders to higher standards and expectations for their personal performance, and inspire them to think more creatively about their work and its possibilities.
The Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation was founded by Mrs. Eda U. Gerstacker in 1957, in memory of her husband. Based in Midland, Michigan, the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation strives to make grants which reflect its founder's vision of enhancing communities for all their citizens. The Gerstacker Foundation has made many notable grants, concentrated in the states of Michigan and Ohio, in the areas of general community support; colleges, universities and research institutions; music and the arts; social services; youth activities; health care and research; and churches. As part of a long and distinguished history of generosity to Saginaw Valley State University, the Gerstacker Foundation was a key supporter of the Regional Education Center, established the Carl A. Gerstacker Endowed Chair in Education, and now establishes the Gerstacker Fellowship Program, to further elevate the quality of education for the people of our community and beyond.