The Perrone-Sizer Institute for Creative Leadership


The Perrone-Sizer Institute for Creative Leadership (PSi) develops a network of adaptive leaders who champion racial justice and equity, and integrate artistic and design thinking, and educational and community-based resources to transform the lives of youth and families. Named after Vito Perrone and Ted Sizer, PSi is a leadership certificate program that can also lead to graduate credit from the University of Massachusetts Boston and/or completion of the Massachusetts Performance Assessment for Leaders (PAL), a requirement for principal licensure. The program immerses leaders in school settings and community-­based organizations and employs a design thinking approach to leadership development. 
See the tentative 2019-2020 PSI syllabus and schedule.


“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”
- Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed


Applications for PSi 2019-2020
Are now Closed

The application period for 2020-2021 will open in December 2019.
Please contact Program Manager
Lisa Sankowski if you have any questions.



PSi's Target Audience

PSi invites interest and applications from individuals who are:

  • Experienced and creative educators and leaders with a strong community ethos

  • Motivated and committed professionals with the ability to lead, inspire, and create

  • Open-minded thinkers committed to engaged learning and racial justice and equity

  • Individuals who self-identify as artists, community-based leaders, or educators with a passion for educational leadership

Leadership Lenses & Competencies

PSi's curriculum develops leaders from the perspective of 3 lenses:

  1. The Artist - accessing inspiration and utilizing creativity, design, risk taking, and experimentation to solve complex problems; artists persist and consider, refine, and illuminate many different approaches.
  2. The Educator - committed to racial justice and equity, and informed and driven by research and data; drawing upon a deep knowledge of child and adolescent development; and applying a profound understanding of theories of learning to prepare students for academic and personal success.
  3. The Community-Based Leader - employing a culturally competent understanding of the assets and needs of youth and families in a given community to engage effectively in a dynamic collaborative process of community growth, development, and networking.

We ensure participants develop and grow as leaders across 7 Leadership Competencies:

  1. Creative Leader - engaging, persisting, using design and studio thinking in their work.
  2. Reflective and Ethical Practitioner - exhibiting moral courage and racial and cultural self-knowledge, embracing racial justice, human imperfection, uncertainty, and sound management in the face of crisis.
  3. Effective Communicator - communicating regularly, proactively, clearly, inspirationally, and harnessing people's minds and hearts to create change.
  4. Skilled Politician and Community Leader - convening the community around common values, a common mission, and a dynamic organizational strategy.
  5. Head Teacher - demonstrating performance-based instructional leadership and deep commitment to academic/intellectual/social/emotional/civic development of students within an ethos of equity.
  6. Chief Talent Developer - recruiting, nurturing, and retaining a diverse and high-quality community of colleagues.
  7. Entrepreneurial and Competent CFO - managing the fiscal resources of the organization, and understanding the role of fundraising and use of data and their impact on equity.

UMass Boston Partnership

PSi values our close relationship with the Department of Leadership in Education at the University of Massachusetts Boston and the alignment of our values and purpose with their commitment to leadership for change and social justice.

Through our unique partnership, participants in PSi can elect to receive, for an extra fee of $5000 (based on 2018-2019 pricing and subject to change), up to 15 graduate-level credits. Twelve of these credits may be applied towards a Masters in Educational Leadership or advanced Doctoral studies at UMass Boston.

MA Performance Assessment for Leaders (PAL)

For participants seeking to qualify for Massachusetts principal licensure, PSi provides significant coaching support to complete PAL Tasks at no additional cost.

Participants seeking to qualify for Massachusetts principal licensure are also required to arrange their own placement in a 500 hour apprenticeship under the supervision of a licensed principal in a Massachusetts public or charter school. Learn more at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website. Also see MA DOE Admin Leadership Guidelines and Rubric.

Program Expectations and Cost

  • August and April Intensives and Monthly Cohort Sessions

PSi requires participant attendance at, and active participation in, all PSi classroom sessions, field experiences, and events, including an 8-Day August and 3-Day April Intensive and one or two full-day class sessions each month from September through June. See the tentative 2019-2020 Syllabus and Schedule for details.

  • Monthly Assignments in Preparation for Sessions and Projects

On time completion of monthly reading and homework assignments in preparation for each session is required. Participants are notified of assignments at least one month in advance.

  • Capstone Leadership Project

The Capstone Leadership Project, which PSi builds toward throughout the year, is participant-driven and independently designed to suit the professional goals and interests of each individual in the cohort. The Capstone Leadership Project must: (1) address an opportunity for growth in the participant's learning community AND (2) leverage a partnership between a community-based organization and their home organization. Participants are expected to develop a project that improves outcomes for youth and families using the resources of their home organization as well as a community-based organization.

  • Cost

Perrone-Sizer Institute for Creative Leadership $5000

Up to an optional 15 graduate credits from the University of Massachusetts Boston for up to an additional $5000 (based on 2018-2019 pricing and subject to change).

  • Funding Your Participation

We know that programs like PSi require significant investment both in time and funds. Past participants have pursued financial support from many sources.

Please do not let cost be a barrier to applying. Contact PSi Program Manager Lisa Sankowski if you would like to discuss cost.

About Vito Perrone and Ted Sizer

Vito Perrone was a professor of education at the University of North Dakota and Harvard University. He was a leading advocate for humanistic and regimentation – free public education. Upon receiving an award from the Cambridge Peace Commission, he spoke of his apprehension about public school systems that encourage teachers to “accept the message of test scores rather than go beyond them.” He always used questions to further his students’ thinking and in this instance asked, “What if our children and young people learn to read and write but don’t like to and don’t? What if they don’t read the newspapers and magazines, or can’t find beauty in a poem or love story? What if they don’t go as adults to artistic events, don’t listen to a broad range of music, aren’t optimistic about the world and their place in it, don’t notice the trees and the sunset, are indifferent to older citizens, don’t participate in politics or community life?” With a teacher’s rhetorical urgency, he added, “Should any of this worry us?” Vito mentored countless generations of emerging teachers and leaders. He is also the author of the book “Letters for Teachers.”

Ted Sizer founded The Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) in 1984 when he was the chair of the education department at Brown University. At its height, CES had over 1,000 member schools in the US and around the world that subscribed to a set of 10 common principles such as: “Student as work; teacher as coach;” “Learn to use one’s mind well;” “Less is more: depth over coverage;” “Personalization.” These were revolutionary ideas in the early 1980s and many still consider CES’ focus on democracy and equity as essential to the healthy development of schools and communities. In 1994, with his wife, Nancy, they founded Francis W. Parker Charter School in Devens, Massachusetts. Sizer is best known for his books: Horace’s Compromise, Horace’s School and Horace’s Hope – a trilogy that deeply influenced generations of progressive educators, school reformers and school leaders.

What are people saying about PSi?

“The most important aspect for me was that there are skills, talents and ways of thinking that I believe are latent within us all and, with the shared experiences provided by PSi, are teased out and strengthened into formidable tools.” — GUY MICHEL TELEMAQUE, BOSTON ARTS ACADEMY

"My year with PSi was a transformative experience. The program gave me insight into the various dimensions and capacities of leadership. The particular artistic lenses that the program engages spoke directly to me as an artist and as a creative leader. It prepared me for a kind of leadership that I could not imagine prior and gave me the confidence to pursue my doctorate." — BRIAN GELLERSTEIN, CAMBRIDGE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

"I wasn’t quite sure what journey I needed/wanted to be on at this juncture of my career. Wow, in the past year, my definition of myself as a leader radically changed and deepened. This program opened so many pathways for me as a practicing leader, renewed my confidence in actions that I have undertaken over the years, but also invigorated my desire to adopt new ways of leading both in the department that I run, as well as the arts organization as an entity." — DONNA GLICK, HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY

"The program asks you to think about the role that the arts and community organizations play in school leadership in way that traditional leadership programs do not. It also asks you to look deeply at one issue that you are passionate about and do a deep investigation into how to create change." — RACHEL EIO, BROOKLINE HIGH SCHOOL

"This program was the turning point in my career that I needed, and it gave me confidence and agency in my abilities as a leader in education. Everyone who is aspiring to leadership needs a program with mentors who can put a mirror up to you and help you find those aspects that you already have in yourself that will help you on your path towards leadership." — MICHELLE BRITO, GROTON SCHOOL

"PSi has given me many tools, strategic, moral, and technical, to approach a whole host of ideas, problems, projects, etc. It has also given me a network of colleagues as well as an introduction to local leaders in Boston. It takes one out of the weeds of one's own world/work and allows you to not only to get a bird's eye view of your own work, but also a look at your work through the lenses of your teachers and colleagues. It forces you to be creative and vision-oriented as well as makes you practice how you articulate and advocate for your ideas." — JOSUE GONZALEZ, DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION, ROCKPORT MUSIC

"My identities as an artist and community-based leader have carried into my work as an educator; namely my adaptive mindset, intentional collaborations, and vision for access and inclusion. [Through PSi] I have grown in two new areas that have been essential to my lens as an adaptive district-level leader: a deeper understanding of learning science, and focus on equity." — RHIANON GUTIERREZ, DIGITAL LEARNING SPECIALIST, BOSTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS