Letitia Fields, a teacher at Carver Elementary School, is now participating in the Northeast Leadership Academy (NELA) through N.C. State University in Raleigh.
Fields teaches fifth-grade reading and social studies and is a leader among her colleagues on the faculty at Carver Elementary.
The Northeast Leadership Academy is an innovative school leader preparation program designed to develop principals as instructional leaders who drive improvements in student achievement in northeast North Carolina’s rural, high need schools. In partnership with 13 local school districts, including Vance County Schools, NELA fellows earn their master’s degree in school administration from N.C. State University and a North Carolina principal’s license.
NELA’s program is different from traditional programs for master’s degrees in school administration. The rigorous, research based program requires participants to demonstrate their leadership skills through solving authentic school problems with the support of executive coaches. The program teaches participants mindsets and skill sets that are changing the trajectory of historically low-performing schools. Program experiences are customized to focus on turnaround principles for rural, low-performing, high poverty schools and communities. Classes and trainings are held at sites in the northeastern part of the state.
The N.C. State program has been nationally recognized for its innovation and quality by being selected by the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) to receive its 2014 Exemplary Educational Leadership Preparation Program Award. It is one of only two programs nationally to receive this distinction this year.
As a participant, Fields will complete a six-week internship in a community agency and develop and deliver professional development for teachers, create resources for parents and teachers and write grant applications to fund needed programs locally. She also will be paired with a school-based internship principal mentor and an executive coach (a retired expert principal or superintendent) and offered support over the internship year and beyond. A yearlong, full-time internship is provided in the second year and focuses on data driven problem of practice strategies. A logic model is developed to measure and evaluate strategies that are employed.
Fields and other participants also attend special events. The events include the UCEA national conference in Washington, D.C., November 18-23, and workshops at the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Ga., in the new Professional Development Center January 16-18.