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Cross-Boundary Leader: Robert Feirsen

Posted By National Coordinator, Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Updated: Monday, August 13, 2018

Robert Feirsen (NY EPFP '13-14)


Career Path & Education Policy
Robert Feirsen is the Director of the School of Leadership and Technology Program at NYIT. He provides an academic background with a focus on technology for aspiring school leaders at many levels. The program is unique in the organic approach to technology and its use as a strategic mechanism for conducting the work of schools.  Feirsen previously served as Superintendent of Garden City (N.Y.) Public Schools for 12 years, and has administrative leadership experience at the deputy superintendent, and school principal levels.

Education Philosophy
Throughout my career, I had overseen many aspects of the education process. These experiences have allowed me to analyze and identify barriers to success in the education process. Funding is at the forefront of the education policy matter. We have traditionally underfunded public state education, and we have not figured out how to balance the Equity=Excellence equation. In the future, I hope to see a country that is able to actualize and make a commitment the vision of equity with excellence in education nationally.

Gaps in understanding from the high school to college level pose a threat to the success of both institutions. Although the two institutions act as a continuum, there are tremendous gaps in understanding of what each party does. Not only do the two institutions not share the same vocabulary, their understanding of the policies and best practice is vastly different. Good conversation and collaboration between each institution will help us reduce these barriers and result in positive change for all. 

We have made strides in the advancement of neuropsychology and information about how people learn, remember, and apply knowledge. But we have not mastered implications of these understandings at the daily instructional level.  The most critical questions in education are: How can we be sure that students learn, and what assessment tools are used for measuring what they learn? As educators, we are fulfilling our goal if we can ensure that students can apply what they are learning. 

EPFP Experience and Value
The EPFP experience was a pivotal moment in my career. As a school leader, the press of day-to-day events often prevented me from looking at the big picture issues in education policy, but EPFP widened my lens.  EPFP enabled me to step back and assess the overarching education climate and fine tune my approach. 

Upon completion of the program, I was able to bring the knowledge I gained from EPFP to my job. Specifically, during a conversation with the Board of Education I was able to give recommendations of best practices I learned at EPFP for addressing policy. As a result, we created a legislative affairs committee where we could work collaboratively with other districts that felt similar education needs. Overall, the knowledge I gained from EPFP has been funneled upward and has positively impacted the scope of the work of the Board of Education, to the benefit of my staff and student community. 

Networking and Leadership 
Networking is a great part of the program, and I am grateful for the experience and the connections I made during the Fellowship. Sharing knowledge is one of the most important parts of the work I do. When I work with great people, I am privileged to know that I can teach them something and that someday they will be able to apply what they learned in their careers. EPFP has also empowered me to reflect on my leadership style and become a leader who is strong yet gracious. Our work is people-centered and when dealing with people it’s important to be helpful, compassionate, and empathetic. The people we serve are not data points. Each person we serve has a story and journey and our goal is to add quality experiences to their lives. I found that there was much value in the program. The information provided, connections made, and speakers were most significant to my experience. EPFP has illuminated that nobody does anything alone. We rely on other people, and that’s a great thing because the more voices we can get into the mix, the stronger and better our decisions will be.


Tags:  alumni 

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