About the UELC


The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.

–Martin Luther King Jr.–



The Urban Education Leaders Collaborative (UELC) is a differentiated professional development program that empowers educational leaders with relevant tangible skills required to lead in school systems facing unprecedented challenges.

The UELC presents a model for engaging current and aspiring education leaders in professional learning communities using four principle methods that challenge and support leaders to develop innovative solutions for the complex challenges they confront in their urban schools and school systems: 1) engaging in reflective and strategic leadership practices, 2) collectively defining problems, 3) reviewing relevant research and data, and 4) working collaboratively through simulated case studies.

Using leadership assessment tools, such as Gallup’s StrengthsFinder 2.0, Intercultural Styles Inventory (ICS), Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), and Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI), leaders reflect on their personal and team strengths and areas for development prior to engaging in UELC’s ELDEx platform that provides a simulation experience for applying theories of group dynamics, decision- making models, and personal leadership styles and capacities. UELC participants learn alongside their peers and experts in the field and return to their respective communities better prepared, more energized, and more motivated to address critical issues.

columbia university teacher's college logo
columbia university teacher's college logo


TC_Columbia_InsigniaThe UELC was developed in late 2012 as an innovative renewal of the historic Superintendents Working Conference (SWC) held at Teachers College. Having been in place since 1941, the SWC achieved an esteemed reputation as a sought-after annual conference for school Superintendents across the nation. UELC developed from SWC in response to feedback from current and aspiring Superintendents, as well as TC’s commitment to the development of the most current solutions for education leaders. One marked difference between SWC and UELC is the latter’s emphasis on collaborative professional development for urban education leaders. In line with leading adult learning theory, the UELC’s pedagogical approach places experiential, self-directed learning at the center of program content and the instructional methods enlisted.

By bringing together leaders with diverse personal and leadership experiences, and framing real-life leadership challenges within an interactive learning framework through the simulated case studies, the UELC is an innovation in urban education professional development that will continue to build upon the SWC’s successes.

Mission and Vision

The Urban Education Leadership Collaborative (UELC) at Teachers College identifies, examines, and generates thoughtful and realistic responses to compelling problems facing urban education leaders. Participants engage in live interactions with national thought leaders and experience multimedia learning facilitated by Teachers College leaders.

The UELC will bring together new and aspiring urban education leaders and national education thought leaders to define problems, review relevant research and data and work collaboratively through simulated case studies. In this way, participants can return to their respective communities better prepared, more energized and more motivated to address critical issues.


Program Director


Associate Director


Dr. Brian Perkins

Program Director

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Dr. Sarah E. Benis Scheier-Dolberg

Associate Director

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Yujing Hu

Research Associate

Hannah Erickson




Our blended learning approach leverages cutting edge technologies, simulation experiences, and eLearning environments to enhance instructional methodologies and collaboration while also serving as a digital portfolio of performance-tasks for leaders.


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 Multimedia Technology & eLearning Classrooms

The UELC has continuously sought to innovate and enhance multimedia learning to ensure the best possible professional development experience for program participants. Developed in partnership with Columbia University’s CTL, the Education Leadership Development Experience (ELDEx) is the secure online multimedia tool that delivers the program’s \simulated case studies to participants. Designed to fully immerse participants in an engaging simulation that fosters creative and critical systems of thinking, the ELDEx is our most inventive multimedia tool to-date.


Simulation Platform



Interactive and visually engaging online course offerings.


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