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Overview of Programs

Program I

Annually, ten to twelve aspiring school leaders are selected to serve as Gerstacker Fellows. They are nominated by their school districts and selected based on past academic, service, and professional experience, the recommendation of others as to their potential for true excellence in leadership, and an assessment of their ability to benefit from and contribute to the Program.

Following the completion of the program, most Gerstacker Fellows advance their careers. They provide leadership as Superintendents, Associate and Assistant Superintendents, Principals, Directors, and Teacher Leaders. Gerstacker Fellows acknowledge the "life-altering" experience provided by the Gerstacker Fellowship Program. 

The curriculum for the Gerstacker Fellowship Program spans twelve months, with monthly two-day sessions beginning in September. Topics may include organizational development and change, communication, human resources, finance, global education, political advocacy, school culture, non-traditional K-12 partners, and leadership skills. The curriculum also includes an international travel and study experience.

Previous international trips have included Finland, China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. These trips involve visits to elementary, middle, and high schools and the opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest with administrators and teachers; the Ministry of Education to discuss K-12 education and its role within the national purpose; a university's graduate school of education to discuss how teachers are prepared and certified; and a corporate setting to understand how leadership plays out in different cultural and economic backgrounds. The 2025 International Study and Travel destinations will be Finland and German

Applications for the 18th Gerstacker Cohort are due on June 30. A selection committee will review the applications, conduct interviews, and a new cohort will be named by early July. An induction ceremony will be held on November 7, 2024, to welcome the new class of Gerstacker Fellows.

The endowment gift of the Gerstacker Foundation and the financial support of Saginaw Valley State University provide for all costs associated with the program. Therefore, there is no cost involved for the Fellows other than that associated with travel to the University Campus for the program sessions.

Program II

From its inception in the 2006-2007 school year, the Gerstacker Fellowship Program has enabled Saginaw Valley State University to offer nearly 185 premier teachers and administrators across the State of Michigan a leadership development and international travel experience. 
The year-long monthly professional development program was designed to "develop leadership skills, lift potential leaders to higher standards and expectations for their performance, and inspire them to think more creatively about their work and its possibilities." 

The Gerstacker Foundation 2011 added one million dollars to its initial endowment to support the development and implementation of the Gerstacker Fellowship Program II.

All Gerstacker Fellowship graduates are eligible to participate in the Gerstacker Fellowship Program II. Participation is voluntary, and Fellows may avail themselves of each year's programs that include a variety of learning opportunities designed to grow the Fellows' leadership capacity further. Over three-quarters of the Fellows have participated in the Gerstacker Fellowship Program II.

Various research-based professional development programs are provided annually for Gerstacker Fellow alums. The sessions provide opportunities for Fellows to gather and gain a greater understanding of K-12 education both in terms of student achievement and organizational effectiveness, to study the importance of leadership and organizational change, and to enable Fellows to continue their quest to expand their vision and capability to improve the quality of education in their schools. In addition to these sessions, each summer, a two-day retreat provides the opportunity for Fellows to gather for professional development and plan for the new school year



Interim Co-Director of the Gerstacker Fellowship Program
Dr. Jill Waliczek

Co-Director & Executive Director of Governmental and Community Affairs
John L Kaczynski