NDSU Educational Leadership academies spread across the state
Published January 2019
Ann Clapper came to North Dakota State University as a big-thinker and doer. She co-piloted a program that has spread across the state, strengthening our communities’ schools.
Clapper, associate professor of practice in NDSU’s School of Education, and Thomas Hall, retired associate professor in the School of Education, are program coordinators for the NDSU Educational Leadership program.
“You can lecture a lot on research, but the work that we do in the schools as teachers, principals and superintendents, just knowing the research is not enough. You have to put research to practice,” said Clapper. This skills-based view of teaching helped Clapper and Hall form the NDSU program, with the help of Kansas State University’s teacher academy model.
The academy is tailored for specific school districts. It blends research with application to the classroom and provides the school district with a strong method for helping teachers develop their leadership skills. All of the classes are held within the school district. At the end of the five-semester program, teachers earn a master’s degree in educational leadership.
NDSU piloted the program with West Fargo Public Schools in 2014 and it was a success. The following school districts followed suit or will start their academy within the next couple of years:
- Northern Cass
- Milnor-Richland 44-Wyndmere
- Valley City
Clapper works with district liaisons to target material for each district. She enjoys seeing the master’s students learn and development more skills and leadership.
“It’s a front-row seat to adult growth. We see their willingness to try, to be vulnerable, to be imperfect and practice difficult conversations – all in a safe environment,” said Clapper, who came to NDSU in 2005.
All of Clapper and Hall’s work with the Educational Leadership academies across the state led to the Sodbuster Award for Excellence in Growth Mindset award from North Dakota’s governor in the fall of 2018. They were honored for their positive impact on state government and the lives of North Dakota citizens.
“To have NDSU’s Teacher Leader Academy model honored by our governor was a high point in my career,” said Clapper. “Because the academy model is unique and still quite new, there have been many opportunities for us to practice a growth mindset. We’ve been lucky to have school leaders who were willing to take a chance on us and implement an academy in their districts so they’re sodbusters too, as they laid the groundwork for other districts to follow.”
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