Hundreds of principals from schools across North Carolina are joining a new statewide initiative aimed at building instructional leadership in the state’s highest-needs schools.
Led by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Office of District & Regional Support, the North Carolina Instructional Leadership Academy (NC ILA) is a partnership between the state agency and Relay Graduate School of Education, an institution with programs in cities nationwide, to help principals build their capacity and strengthen the quality of teaching and learning in their schools.
The initiative calls for the participation of as many as 1,600 school and district leaders in a two-year professional development fellowship. The program is being funded through the state’s federal COVID-relief Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) allocation.
In all, 441 schools are eligible for participation based on their 2018-19 accountability data. Each school is asked to bring a principal, a district leader, and two additional school representatives - preferably those that work in building instructional capacity in the school.
Cynthia Martin, senior director of District & Regional Support, said the initiative brings an unparalleled opportunity to school leaders and academic coaches working in high-needs schools across the state.
“Relay’s leadership programming is based on proven, research-based leadership practices that create school communities with strong culture, rigorous instruction and dramatic student achievement,” Martin said. “The programs’ core skills and practices emphasize many of the best practices used by highly effective school leaders across the nation to achieve outstanding student outcomes. Relay’s national programs have a demonstrated track record in developing leaders that can transform schools.”
The program was piloted in North Carolina during the 2021-22 school year in 12 schools in the Public Schools of Robeson County and has now been expanded to include all schools in the district.
Windy Dorsey-Carr, executive director of school transformation for the Public Schools of Robeson County, told the Robesonian newspaper that the work has created a common language and understanding of what to look for in the classroom.
“The impact of the work this past year is reflective of the growth that can be seen across the school district,” Dorsey-Carr said. “By putting all of these measures in place, we will be able to continue to grow our students at an even faster pace,”
During the two-year fellowship, participants across the state will meet four times a year for in-person, daylong sessions at one of four regional locations, based on proximity, in Greenville, Greensboro, Charlotte, and Wilmington.
The first year of the program will focus on leading an equity-centered student culture and on observation and feedback. The second year will be focus on weekly data meetings and leading planning meetings. DPI’s Office of Academic Standards will also be working together with the leadership academy to develop resources and additional sessions to assist participants during the two years of the program.
In addition to the professional development provided to all participants in the program, six districts in the CARES model, North Carolina’s intensive support model, will receive job embedded professional development, coaching and additional on-site support.. The six districts are Anson, Nash, Northampton, Robeson, Tyrrell, and Washington.
Relay Graduate School of Education is an accredited not-for-profit institution of higher education serving thousands of educators from across the country, from pre-service teachers to system-level leaders. Our mission is to ensure that all students are taught by excellent educators, in order to build a more just world where every student has a clear path to a fulfilling life. Our graduate and certification programs, teacher residencies, and professional education offerings are equity-centered and practice-based, led by experienced practitioners and designed to build community among a diverse set of peers. Through in-person and online programming, we can offer students flexibility and the opportunity to learn with a wide network of faculty.