National Principals Academy Fellowship: Michelle Bancroft

By Ellie Baez on August 7, 2017

Project Renaissance is proud to sponsor six Nashville school leaders who were selected early this year to participate in Relay Graduate School of Education’s National Principals Academy Fellowship (NPAF).

Our six Relay National Principals Academy fellows kicked off their year-long program with two weeks in Denver attending intensive classes and practice sessions. Each of these school leaders is learning more about a variety of topics including strategic leadership, data-driven instruction, observation and feedback, adult professional development, instructional planning, building an aligned staff culture, and creating a culture of high expectations for students.

In the second installment of this blog series, Purpose Preparatory Academy’s Michelle Bancroft shares her experiences a couple months into the fellowship.

Tell us a little about you. I am currently the Dean of Curriculum K-1 and Exceptional Education Coordinator K-4 at Purpose Preparatory Academy in Nashville, Tennessee. I believe that all children, regardless of circumstance deserve a high-quality education. Purpose Prep is a public charter school that holds this mission, and I could not be happier being part of an organization that our community needs. The work at Purpose Prep is changing lives and is giving our scholars a strong foundation to set them on the path to college. I could not imagine myself in a more powerful workplace. In 2013, I was a kindergarten founding teacher at Purpose Prep. I continued teaching kindergarten for an additional two years. In 2015-2016, I became the Kindergarten Instructional Lead. This is when I first emerged as a leader in our work. In this role, I supported other teachers in kindergarten while remaining a classroom teacher. In 2016-2017, I stepped outside the classroom as a Dean of Curriculum K-1 and Exceptional Education Coordinator. In this role, I began coaching and holding observation and feedback meetings with teachers.

Prior to beginning the National Principals Academy Fellowship, what did you hope to learn from the fellowship? I wanted to learn more about best practices for coaching teachers and how to follow a strong framework for data-driven instruction meetings. During the 10-day summer professional development, we had the opportunity to discuss and to practice in these areas. We had two days that were dedicated to just practicing culture, observation/feedback, and data-driven instruction meetings. The practice RELAY provided in these areas allowed me to feel more confident when rolling these meetings out to my own team.

Can you briefly describe the fellowship, and highlight what you have found most useful?The summer fellowship consisted of sessions around culture, data-driven instruction, observation/feedback, teaching content in reading and math, organization, goal setting, etc. The practice during these sessions was powerful because not only did we talk about best practices, but we also got the chance to implement them.

Can you give a few examples of how you will use information learned while leading your school during the 2017-2018 school year? I will bring back best practices to my school and norm frameworks with my team. This will allow for stronger clarity when different leaders are implementing different types of meetings at Purpose Prep. I also plan to implement any future feedback given on projects to make our work stronger. I look forward to continuously receiving feedback throughout the school year from RELAY.

Any other takeaways for others that may be interested in applying for the fellowship? There is a lot of support from RELAY and from other leaders in other organizations. Everyone in the fellowship brings ideas and the collaboration that takes place allows for best practices to be shared.

To learn more about the fellowship, visit Relay’s National Principals Academy Fellowship. Click here to read other perspectives on the National Principals Academy Fellowship, and visit our blog again next week!