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November 1, 2023

Dedicated education leaders selected for Gerstacker leadership program at SVSU

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The 17th cohort of pre-kindergarten through grade 12 education leaders committed to professional growth will join the Saginaw Valley State University Gerstacker Fellowship program in 2023-24. 

As part of the initiative, 12 school leaders from across Michigan will participate in concentrated leadership training over one year. The group will be inducted into the program during a ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 2 at SVSU. The participants, known as Gerstacker Fellows, meet monthly. Experts in the field instruct the group on subjects such as leadership practices, organizational leadership, communication, cognitive coaching, finance, and education with a global perspective. 

“Today, there are nearly 200 Gerstacker alumni who collaborate in efforts to provide best practices for all of our students,” said Mary Anne Ackerman, executive in residence at SVSU and co-director of the Gerstacker program. “This year’s cohort have made a commitment to further enhance their knowledge so they can bring new perspectives and experiences to their schools.”

As an extension of their study, the Gerstacker Fellows will travel to Finland and Germany in April to meet with educators and visit educational institutions to learn about global educational systems and different cultures. The Gerstacker program has established a number of partnerships with schools in these countries, giving the fellows an opportunity for in-depth learning experiences.

Last year’s Gerstacker cohort also traveled to Finland and Germany. While in Finland, the group attended school visits and studied Finnish education at the University of Helsinki. In Germany, the group visited K-12 schools and post-secondary schools in Ansbach and Gunzenhausen. The group also visited the U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach to learn about K-12 schools operated by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Those selected to participate in the 2023-24 program are: 

  • Joshua Chase, middle school principal, Hemlock Public Schools
  • Michael Cottone, elementary school principal, Troy Union Schools
  • Pasquale Cusumano, high school principal, Rochester Community Schools
  • Kimberly Deering, special education teacher, Swan Valley Public Schools
  • Mit Foley, assistant superintendent, Saginaw Public Schools
  • Kelly Gallagher, middle school principal, South Lyon Public Schools
  • Sabrina Jackson, director of early childhood services, Saginaw Intermediate School District
  • Kellie Kekel, elementary school principal, Bangor Community Schools
  • Tracy Kuhn, instructional coach, Saginaw Township Schools
  • Heidi Maltby-Skodack, executive director of school improvement/STEM and innovative programs, Traverse City Public Schools
  • Craig Salter, elementary school administrator, Fenton Area Schools
  • Kara Stark, elementary school principal, Midland Public Schools

The Gerstacker Fellowship Program was established in 2005 with a $1.5 million endowment from the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation of Midland. The Gerstacker Fellowship now includes over 180 individuals who have completed the training. Gerstacker alumni continue to gather for additional training while focusing on implementing best leadership practices