Skip to main content Skip to footer

November 8, 2021

SVSU selects K-12 educators for Gerstacker leadership program

With a keen awareness of the academic challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, a new group of K-12 education leaders will focus on professional growth as part of Saginaw Valley State University’s Gerstacker Fellowship Program. 
As part of the initiative, 14 teachers, principals and program administrators from across Michigan will receive concentrated leadership training over a 1-year period. The experience will include an international trip to the Netherlands and Germany in June. 

“This work has become even more critical following the loss of classroom time during the pandemic. A focus on creating principles and tools for developing and facilitating collaborative groups is a priority as leaders are asked to create plans to respond to learning loss,” said Mary Anne Ackerman, executive in residence at SVSU and co-director of the Gerstacker program. 

The Gerstacker Fellowship Program was established in 2005 with a $1.5 million endowment from the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation of Midland. Participants, known as Gerstacker Fellows, meet monthly. Experts instruct the group on subjects such as leadership practices, organizational leadership, communication, cognitive coaching, finance and education with a global perspective. This year’s group is the 15th cohort.

“The Gerstacker Fellowship now includes over 160 people who have participated in the training,” said Ackerman. “Together they support each other in the work of providing top-notch academic opportunities for our children.” 

The international trips are a vital component of the program. Gerstacker Fellows visit educational institutions to learn about international educational systems and corporate settings. There, they discover how leadership plays out in different cultural and economic settings. Previous overseas trips have included China, South Korea, Poland, Japan, Taiwan, Finland and Germany. The 14th Gerstacker Fellows cohort traveled to Finland and Germany, where they visited K-12 schools, Helsinki University, Hochshule Ansbach, secondary German vocational schools and numerous cultural sites. 

This year’s Gerstacker Fellowship cohort includes: 

  • Julie Alley, an elementary principal in Port Huron Area Schools 
  • Sarah Cooper, an elementary teacher in Midland Public Schools 
  • Rebekah D’Haene, an elementary principal in Saginaw Township Schools 
  • John Folsom, assistant high school principal in Bay City Public Schools 
  • Kelly Frank, an instructor at the Teacher Prep Academy at Iosco Regional Education Service Agency’s Career and Tech Center 
  • Stephanie Hayward, an elementary principal in Reese Public Schools 
  • Sean Kelly, high school teacher, Oak Park Schools 
  • Stacey Luberda-Criner, superintendent of Alma Public Schools 
  • Nancy Mahoney, assistant superintendent of Instructional Services, Clarkston Community Schools 
  • Lisa Morford, a literacy coach in the Saginaw Intermediate School District 
  • Amanda Murray, secondary interventionist at Michigan International Prep School 
  • Tiffany Peterson, high school principal with Carrollton Public Schools 
  • Rachel Reid, principal of Saginaw Arts and Science Academy in Saginaw Public Schools
  • Joshua Wrinkle, principal of Rochester High School

For more information about the Gerstacker Fellowship at SVSU, visit