UNCG Campus Weekly

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UNCG, Area Schools to Recruit, Prepare Principals

The Department of Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations in the School of Education is collaborating with area school systems to identify and train aspiring principals who will lead high-need schools.

The initiative, the Piedmont Triad Leadership Academy (PTLA), is funded by a three-year, $6 million grant from the State of North Carolina. North Carolina is dispersing a total of $400 million from the federal Race to the Top grant program.

The PTLA will offer alternative licensure and professional development for future principals. It is one of two new alternative licensure academies approved by the State Board of Education last week and scheduled to open for the 2011-12 academic year.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this innovative, collaborative project intended to provide leadership for K-12 schools most in need,” said Dr. Rick Reitzug, professor in the School of Education and PTLA principal investigator.

PTLA exists as a partnership among UNCG, the Alamance Burlington School System, the Asheboro City Schools, the Guilford County Schools, the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools and the Piedmont Triad Education Consortium.

The school districts served by the PTLA have more than 150,000 students and contain almost 100 high-need schools. According to current data, PTLA partner districts will lose almost 200 principals or assistant principals over the next three years and have difficulty recruiting qualified candidates.

“Effective school leaders play a critical role in improving student achievement and preparing graduates for higher education and the workplace,” said State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison. “With about half of the state’s current school leaders eligible for retirement in the next four years, it is more important than ever that we focus on developing the next generation of great principals who will successfully lead our schools in the future.”

The academy will enroll a cohort of at least 20 aspiring principals each year and will focus on a case-study curriculum that is co-designed and co-taught by UNCG faculty and district partner personnel. The program includes a full-time, year-long clinical residency experience.

“The PTLA represents a major step in regional collaboration among four school districts, the university and the Piedmont Triad Education Consortium,” said Dr. Larry Coble, executive director of the Piedmont Triad Educational Consortium.

“Transforming high-need schools requires a special skill set, one that isn’t easily found today. The opportunity to recruit and grow more leaders ready to tackle this challenge is really significant”, noted Guilford County Schools Chief of Staff Nora Carr.

“Unlike some programs that provide off-the-shelf principal training approaches, we will work together with our district partners to design and deliver cutting-edge school leadership preparation,” said Dr. Craig Peck, professor in the School of Education and PTLA co-principal investigator.

PTLA was one of two new alternative licensure academies selected for funding based on demonstrated need, sustainability, commitment, capacity to plan, ability to implement, quality of program design, interviews and site visits. In addition to Reitzug, Peck, and the school district partners, Dr. Carl Lashley and Dr. Larry Coble, both faculty members in the School of Education, played crucial grant development roles.

Academies will receive funding from the state’s Race to the Top grant and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. The State Board of Education also approved the Sandhills Regional Leadership Academy.

The state’s first principal academy, the Northeast Leadership Academy, opened in the fall of 2010.

“These leadership academies will help arm school leaders with the tools and knowledge they need to better serve our children,” said Governor Bev Perdue.

By Michelle Hines