NCSU Educational Leadership Academy

NC State University’s Educational Leadership Academy (NELA) seeks to increase student achievement by preparing and retaining principals in high-poverty, hard-to-staff, and historically low-performing schools. NELA creates a comprehensive leadership development and succession plan for NC high-need school districts. Each component is anchored in research-based best practices in leadership preparation and is designed to meet the specific contextualized needs of schools in North Carolina.

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Fast Facts

Relevant Actions
State or Local? State
CountiesBegan in Wake, Durham, Cumberland, & Johnston
Lead Agency North Carolina State University
Type of Agency

Higher Education Institution

Racial Equity Lens
  • Trainees have been trained to address all inequities (strengths/ differences of all students regardless of learning ability)
  • Human Resources Leadership is taught with the lens of racial equity and ensuring that diverse perspectives are hired
  • Recruiting is also done to be representative of the students from those counties
Community Voice
  • MSA students have a summer community immersion experience. They learn to make connections between the local community and the school through asset mapping and volunteer/internship experiences.
  • We follow up with the fellows every month post-graduation.
  • District leaders, other principals, and superintendents in the area are consulted to adjust the training accordingly.
  • 90% of schools with a NELA graduate serving as principal met or exceeded growth for the 2018 – 2019 school year vs. only 75% of principals across all schools in the state reaching the same level of performance.
  • Current State Principal of the Year: Matthew Bristow-Smith was in Cohort 3
    • Southern Nash Principal of the Year: Hugh Scott
  • Students promoted to have a regional/ district impact (not just principals but also leaders in education)
    • Alexandria Evans: Executive Director of School Improvement
    • Julie Thompson: Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services
Next Steps
  • Strengthen curriculum/add experiences around Birth-5 and PreK leadership and vertical alignment.
  • Design Thinking for school leaders E-book
    • How to create a creative, repeatable process for problem-solving
    • Particularly to address larger contexts and problems such as COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter
Primary Partners
  • North Carolina State University and 25 school districts
Primary Funders
  • NC Partnership for Children/Division of Child Development’s Family Engagement & Leadership Grant
  • Catawba County Partnership for Children
Contact Bonnie Fusarelli

Active Counties