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Frequently Asked Questions



The Leadership Academy is a collaborative effort between local school districts and the University of Tennessee’s Center for Educational Leadership to prepare and develop the next generation of outstanding school leadership in our communities. This rigorous 15-month experience is intended to significantly shorten the learning curve for the increasingly complex and demanding job of school principal. Through the Leadership Academy, a small and extremely talented cohort of aspiring school principals (called fellows) will learn successful strategies of effective instructional leadership from experienced leaders, researchers, professors, and each other.


Teachers, instructional coaches, teacher leaders, counselors, assistant principals and others with at least three years of successful educational experience and instructional knowledge are encouraged to apply. Applicants should aspire to be a school principal in their sponsoring school district within the next 1-5 years.


The program runs from June 1, 2018 through July 6, 2019, culminating with a Capstone Presentation in the late summer of 2019.


Fellows begin their work on June 1st and are essentially full-time students at the University of Tennessee for the summer. Fellows are placed in a school from their sponsoring school district for the academic year, spending four days a week with an excellent mentor principal, learning instructional leadership hands-on. The fifth day (generally Friday) is spent in coursework and seminars at the University of Tennessee with both professors and practitioners learning the theory and research associated with effective educational leadership. The second summer entails capstone courses meant to culminate the experience. Full-time university coursework is required in both summers of the program. Upon successful completion of the program, fellows earn a Masters or Education Specialist degree from the University of Tennessee, and a Beginning Administrator license from the state of Tennessee.


In return for receiving tuition for the degree as well as a stipend while serving as a Leadership Academy Fellow, graduates commit to working in their sponsoring school districts for a minimum of four years after completion of the program. If a graduate is not placed in a principalship, he/she may be appointed to an assistant principalship, other school administrative position, or a teaching position.


Tuition and other costs of this rigorous professional learning experience total approximately $32,000. However, through the commitment of the University of Tennessee and with philanthropic support, the tuition is paid on behalf of the fellows. The sponsoring school district must have a full-time school administrative position available (or created) for the fellow in a school with a strong mentor principal for the school year of the Academy experience, and allow the fellow to be released one full day a week for coursework. The Center and its partners have already secured approximately $24,000 per fellow in philanthropic and other resources, and with the support of the sponsoring school district will successfully fund-raise the remaining $8,000.


Individuals holding a Tennessee principals license can apply to the Leadership Academy and will not be at a disadvantage. Participants are identified based on who the selection committee feels will benefit the most from the program and will complete the program ready to assume a school leadership role in their sponsoring school district. Selected individuals who already have completed a Master’s program for licensure can utilize the Academy to work toward an Education Specialist (EdS) degree. In addition, plans are in process for offering a Doctorate in Education (EdD) at the University of Tennessee for those who want to continue their education beyond the Leadership Academy experience, but final approval for this degree has not yet been received.


Yes. If you are admitted to the Leadership Academy and have not yet been admitted to the Graduate School, you will be required to be admitted to both the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences and to the UT Graduate School prior to the start of the 2018-2019 academic year.


Yes. You will need to submit an entirely new packet with new evaluation forms, references, transcripts, etc.


No. For the past several years, sponsoring school districts have hired approximately 5-10 new principals per year, as well as a number of assistant principals. Participants who are successful in all aspects of the program will be very competitive candidates for these openings but are not guaranteed principalships.


The Leadership Academy has been created to address the ongoing need for school leaders who are well versed in their sponsoring school district’s goals. These school districts will seriously consider all successful candidates for principal and assistant principal vacancies. To date, Leadership Academy graduates have enjoyed a 100% placement rate in school administrative positions.


Mentor principals are selected based on their demonstrated leadership skills, their schools’ success in implementing their school district’s goals, raising student achievement levels, and their skills in and commitment to mentoring. The Leadership Academy team will identify mentor principals. In order to qualify as a mentor principal, the mentor must attend the training session during the month of May.

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