Fellowships bring next generation of leaders to Lansing schools

LANSING — Alyssa Stepter’s passion for education was sparked while she was a student at Lansing’s Averill Elementary.

Now she’s come full circle, returning to Lansing School District through a fellowship that draws in people from different backgrounds and professions.

Stepter is one of four fellows who have joined the district this school year through the Urban Leaders Fellowship, a program that recruits professionals to accelerate their leadership capacity.

Alyssa Stepper

Lansing School District officials see the program as an opportunity to bring in bright, young professionals to work on their development while also advancing the school district and positively impacting the community. The district also sees the program as an opportunity to bring in young professionals it may hire as school district leaders in the future.

The fellowships are part of the district’s Rewarding Educator Achievement and Performance program, which is funded by a federal grant, said Jaime Gundrum, the district’s REAP project assistant director.

“One of the goals of the grant is to increase our workforce at all levels, including the administrative level,” she said. “We know it can be challenging for someone to come into a new district, so this creates a year of opportunities for them to learn about the district before they take on a position.”

During their time working in the school district, the four fellows will rotate through different departments and areas, such as human resources, the finance department and the instructional division, and others.

The fellows who have joined Lansing School District this year come from a variety of backgrounds and bring with them different skills.

Vincent Price Jr., a Flint Community Schools graduate, has served as assistant principal and athletic director at Detroit West Preparatory Academy, as a chief school administrator for El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz Academy in Lansing, and as superintendent of Genesee STEM Academy, according to biographical information provided by the school district.

Nate Gatlin joins Price Jr. with more than 14 years of education experience.

Anthony Greenburg’s education career began at Lansing School District’s Eastern High School in 2001, where he taught English. Nine years later, he became assistant principal at Lansing’s CW Otto Middle School. He moved to Lansing Community College in 2011 where he helped start The Early College.

After a brief stint at Northwest Community Schools’ alternative high school in Jackson, Greenburg is back in Lansing.

Stepter worked at Michigan State University as an academic specialist in the College of Education, specializing in outreach. She worked with incoming first-year students of color who were attending MSU from urban communities, helping them get acclimated to campus and getting a head start on their college careers.

She is bringing a similar focus to her work as a fellow at Lansing School District.

“Working in an urban district is an intentional part of my journey to remain focused on doing work focused on (diversity, equity and inclusion) and social justice,” Stepter said.

Stepter started her fellowship with the REAP department. For the rest of the school year, Stepter is scheduled to rotate to the school district’s department that works on securing competitive grants, then to the office of school culture and ending in alternative education.

“We really want it to be a mutually beneficial experience to where they’re learning new skills, but contributing to us with the skills they bring,” Gundrum said.

Stepter is keeping her options open once the fellowship concludes, though she did not rule out joining the Lansing School District full time. She wants to continue advancing in leadership roles focusing on urban education issues and opportunities in education for more access and equity.

“For me, I’ve always done it,” Stepter said. “I’m passionate about it. It fuels me.”

Contact Mark Johnson at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @ByMarkJohnson.

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