Mason Education Leadership Faculty to Provide Professional Development to School Leaders in Uzbekistan

April 22, 2024

Dr. Farnoosh Shahrokhi
Dr. Farnoosh Shahrokhi

Dr. Farnoosh Shahrokhi, academic program co-coordinator and associate professor of the Education Leadership program in the School of Education at George Mason University, has been awarded a grant in support of a two-year initiative to advance pedagogical and educational leadership reforms among school administrators and education officials in Uzbekistan. This project, “Educational Leadership Development Program for School Administrators in Uzbekistan,” is sponsored by the Public Diplomacy Section of the U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan and is being implemented by the American Councils for International Education.

The goal of this grant-funded initiative is to enhance the educational and leadership abilities of public-school leaders in Uzbekistan by offering targeted professional development opportunities that will improve the professional capacities and skills of these individuals. The professional development will be provided by Mason faculty who will travel to Uzbekistan to deliver in-person training covering a broad range of topics critical to school leaders.

Dr. Shahrokhi, who is director of Mason’s Division of Education Leadership and who is leading this effort, emphasized the importance of the project and how it aligns with the mission of advancing equity in education worldwide through intercultural training of school leaders in international settings. Dr. Shahrokhi has extensive international experience that includes her role as Academic Advisor for the Curriculum Development and Leadership Training Project for Armenia; Pre-service Education for Azerbaijan; and serving as Principal Investigator and Director for the Eurasia, South Asia Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program. Throughout these endeavors, Dr. Shahrokhi has focused her research on leadership preparation, learning experiences in teacher leadership, and international teacher exchanges.

The training provided to the school leaders as part of the initiative in Uzbekistan consists of two separate modules containing course content that is designed by Mason faculty, with each module including 72 hours of instructional time. The modules will be delivered over two sessions, each spanning eleven days. The modules will conclude with action planning days where each participant, with guidance from Mason faculty, will generate individual action plans for module implementation.

An initial group of 28 school principals and vice-principals will participate in the core training. Each of these individuals will subsequently train other school leaders in Uzbekistan to bring the total number of school principals and vice-principals engaging in the professional development program to 280.

Collaborating with Dr. Shahrokhi on this project are other faculty from the Education Leadership program including Drs. Regina Biggs (academic program co-coordinator and associate professor), Roberto Pamas (professor), Maureen Marshall (assistant professor), and Anthony Terrell (assistant professor). In discussing the expertise of her team, Dr. Shahrokhi observed that these individuals bring decades of experience in delivering leadership content to aspiring and current school leaders. She stated, “These faculty have years of experience in leading schools and divisions as well as years of university instruction in a program designed to develop future leaders. They are also highly engaged in research in the field and actively involved with key educational organizations. The faculty chosen for this project have extensive experience in providing targeted professional development to current school principals and vice-principals in partnerships with local school divisions.”

Five Education Leadership Program faculty members standing together in graduation robes
Education Leadership Program Faculty

As part of this project, a total of three trips to Uzbekistan are planned during which Dr. Shahrokhi will be accompanied by two to four faculty team members who will deliver the professional development training modules. The project will culminate with the Mason instructional team hosting a two-week program for 14 individuals selected from those who participated in the professional development training initiative in Uzbekistan. These participants will come to Mason’s Fairfax, Virginia campus where they will meet with local principals and visit area schools. Dr. Shahrokhi remarked, “This will provide an excellent opportunity for dialogue and ongoing collaboration.”

For more information on degree offerings in Mason’s Education Leadership program, please visit the program website.