On July 1, 2021, The NC Principal Fellows and Transforming Principal Preparation Programs fully merged. Learn more about the new grant-funded program and its impact on principal preparation across the state.
INNOVATIVE ENGLISH TEACHER NAMED GCS TEACHER OF THE YEAR
September 21, 2021 -- “Students are people. People need connection, safety, support, validation, care, and attention,” is what Leah Carper wrote in her application to become GCS Teacher of the Year. Carper’s leadership and willingness to embrace new trends catapulted her to Teacher of the Year.
An English teacher in Guilford County Schools for more than a decade, Carper has seen a lot of change in her time as an educator. One of those changes is the rise of social media. Carper began a teaching Instagram account and a TikTok account to show not only her students, but the world, that teaching and learning can be fun.
Going the extra mile is just another day for Carper. “When it comes to teaching, I’m going to do what works for my students,” wrote Carper. “Sometimes that means dressing up in silly costumes. Other times it’s selecting reading material that appeals to their interests, experiences, and ideals.”
Carper began her education career as an English teacher at Western High in 2006. In 2016 Carper became an English teacher at Northern High. She continued in various leadership positions including becoming a lead mentor, a principal intern, an NC principal fellow commission member and a PTSA board member.
Carper acknowledged this isn’t a one-person award in her acceptance speech.
“Not one person should win Teacher of the Year for this past year,” said Carper. “This was the hardest year we’ve ever had as educators and I’m so proud of how far we’ve come and what we’ve learned. Everyone who tried to help students learn is a teacher of the year.”
The North Carolina Principal Fellows Commission meets regularly to discuss various aspects of the program. The fifteen-member governing body represents various educational and business areas, and are appointed to serve four year terms.
Our next PLN is scheduled for Friday, October 22, 2021 from 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM via Zoom. This session will be focused on the development of a leadership coaching framework centered around addressing inequity. All of NC's School of Education Principal Prep Programs are invited to participate. All NC Principal Fellow Programs are required to have representation present at PLNs.
The process of becoming a NC Principal Fellow is collaborative and involves your school principal, district leadership (Human Resources and Superintendent) and grant-funded University Programs.
No application from our state office exists. Each academic year, grant-funded University Programs will work with their partnering school districts to determine the number of aspiring leaders they have "on the bench" and ready to enroll in a cohort. As partners, they manage a rigorous selection process used to ensure the highest caliber participants are accepted.
The North Carolina Principal Fellows and Transforming Principal Preparation Program was recently highlighted in a RAND publication. The report, commissioned by the Wallace Foundation, researched how state-level policy levers are being used in several states to improve principal preparation. Our program was featured for the use of incentives to recruit high quality candidates for principal preparation.
The North Carolina Principal Fellows Program, launched in 1993, is a scholarship program that provides funding to exemplary educators who aspire to begin a career in school administration. For twenty six years, scholarship funds (in the amount of ~$3.2 million) have been awarded. The Transforming Principal Preparation Program is a competitive state grant ($4 million) which requires NC university programs to apply through a Request for Proposal process in order to receive funding. Again, this is a grant awarded to university programs and not a scholarship awarded directly to students.
The NCPFP prepared me for a successful career as a school administrator. The program made me aware of current school conditions and helped me recognize ways that I could support students and teachers with various problems in numerous settings. The NCPFP also helped me build a foundation for a doctoral program which I recently completed.
I’ve been through the NC Principal Fellows Program as a student and also have enjoyed the pleasure of being a Principal mentor for another NC Principal Fellow. Without question, the strongest, most-prepared administrative candidates seem to be produced from the North Carolina Principal Fellows Program.
Being a NC Principal Fellow did not “get” me a job; however, the experiences I had because of the program, and the constant reflection about my practice, prepared me well for my current role as a principal. UNCG and its focus upon the cultural foundations of education helped me to become a principal that questions, so that children continue to be the focus of all that I and my staff do to create a positive, worthwhile education for our children.
The indescribably rigorous and extremely relevant material and assignments I was exposed to as a NC Principal Fellow uniquely prepared and filled me with an immense level of confidence, pride and organizational skills. I find myself incredibly energized and capable of being student-oriented, supportive of my co-workers, compassionate, and understanding of parents, as well as very patient.
I am proud to be an alumni of the NC Principal Fellows professional learning community. NCPFP provided a wealth of opportunities for me to grow and learn as a school executive. Without the NC Principal Fellows Program, I would not have gained from the experience of working with a variety of school principals at different levels. The professional development and internships from the program have broadened my thinking and shaped me into a much better administrator.
If it had not been for the North Carolina Principal Fellows Program, I would not have been able to participate in the MSA program. The opportunity to develop as a professional on a full time basis was too good to pass up. The internship year provided me with learning opportunities that part-time students never experience. As a result, I entered the administrative workforce more knowledgeable and more confident.