Investing in Strong School Leadership

By Justin Testerman on January 31, 2017

With a new year comes a renewed sense of energy and urgency to work towards our five-year goal of doubling the number of children attending high-quality public schools in Nashville. Project Renaissance has made a focus on creating new pipelines for high- quality teachers and leaders a cornerstone of our efforts. This year we are increasing our focus on developing high-quality school leaders, who research shows are the second most important factor in improving student achievement (behind only teachers). Strong school leadership not only affects student learning, but it is also instrumental in retaining high-quality teachers in high-needs schools.

We are pleased to announce that we will once again be offering a limited number of scholarships for Nashville school leaders to attend the National Principal Academy Fellowship (NPAF) at the Relay Graduate School of Education (Relay) in 2017.

NPAF is a one-year, job-embedded leadership fellowship for current school leaders from across the country, which includes an intensive two-week summer program followed by four weekend “intersessions” throughout the year. In the current school year, half of the national fellowship cohort is working in traditional district schools, and half in public charter schools. These individuals represent schools in 19 states and the District of Columbia, improving the lives of more than 100,000 students. The year-long program is dedicated to improving school environments by training school leaders to use data and observation and feedback cycles to grow their staff into the best educators possible.

“Participating in the NPAF last year was one of the most impactful professional experiences of my career. It included the very best hands-on, practice based training on the highest leverage skills for Principals to move the needle on student achievement in their buildings. Whether new or experienced, I would highly recommend it for any Principal who is ready to learn and practice the most important levers of leadership that will result in dramatic student achievement gains in their schools”
Jim Lekrone, Principal of East End Prep, MNPS

The Relay Graduate School of Education is a national, accredited, nonprofit institution of higher education whose mission is to teach teachers and school leaders to develop in all students the academic skills and strength of character needed to succeed in college and life. Now operating in eight sites across the country with over 1,700 teacher and principal students, Relay is eager to bring about transformational change in our public schools. Relay uses practice and feedback to become the place where a new generation of continuously improving, results-focused individuals can fulfill their destiny in the world’s greatest profession.

Interested in learning more? Email Justin Testerman at for more details.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates on our work!