The Tennessee Department of Education has pledged nearly $4 million in Race to the Top funds to pay for eight leadership development programs, which will impact future school leaders in more than 20 districts across the state.
The TN LEAD grants were awarded to organizations in partnership with one or more school systems, to either develop or replicate programs aimed at increasing leader effectiveness and improving student outcomes.
The programs will target current and pre-service educators, in order to deepen the pipeline of effective leaders in Tennessee schools.
A key requirement of the grant was to show evidence that the proposed programs were sustainable, said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman.
“Training educators to be future leaders is one of the most important things we can do to ensure the sustainability of our work,” Huffman said. “Having effective principals and district leaders in place will make sure our efforts to improve education continue to pay off many years down the road.”
There were 20 applicants for the competitive TN LEAD grants. Eight recipients received funds, for a total of about $4 million. The programs target teachers who want to be principals, those who seek a teacher-leader role in their school, as well as district personnel who hope to serve in a school leadership position. The winners represent a wide range of innovative approaches, including university-based programs, a rural collaborative, and a multi-district partnership with top principals in China. The leadership development programs will begin this month and continue through July 2014.
Paul Fleming, the department’s executive director of leadership development, and former principal of Metro Nashville’s Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School, said that next to teachers, a highly effective leader is the number one factor that impacts student achievement at a school.
“Principals are the gatekeepers; they either encourage high-quality innovation, or they keep it out. They set the tone for the entire building,” he said. “With some of Tennessee’s important initiatives like the Common Core State Standards, there has never been a more important time to have effective leaders in place.”
For more information, contact Kelli Gauthier at 615/532-7817 or Kelli.Gauthier@tn.gov.