This summer, the West Fargo School District became the first school district in North Dakota to participate in a new Leadership Academy model master’s degree program offered through NDSU. In addition, NDSU joined the ranks of only a few universities nationwide to offer a master’s program based on the leadership academy model.
NDSU’s Leadership Academy is a pilot program that brings graduate-level classes into the West Fargo School District and aligns its curriculum closely with the district’s goals, objectives, policies and procedures in addition to state and national standards. The pilot program is a collaborative effort between the Office of Distance and Continuing Education at NDSU, NDSU’s School of Education, and the West Fargo School District.
The Leadership Academy master’s degree program provides 14 teachers from the West Fargo School District the opportunity to gain leadership skills that prepare them for varying levels of leadership within the school system. While the program offers some of the basic coursework for individuals to become prepared for a principal’s position, David Flowers, superintendent of West Fargo Schools, said, “The main goal for the district is a program that grooms teachers to become teacher leaders, be better participants in professional learning communities or become better teachers in general, which in turn improves student achievement.”
In addition to the program standards that guide the content of the academy courses, NDSU’s Leadership Academy focuses on the following outcomes:
- Enhanced technical writing and speaking skills
- Improved dispositions of future leaders
- Real-life experience resolving challenging problems and
- On-the-job practice using leadership skills.
NDSU’s Leadership Academy was designed with a team approach in mind. “We tap into different departments on campus to capture the wealth of knowledge and experience that NDSU has to offer the individuals we are priming for leadership positions,” said Tom Hall, associate professor in the School of Education.
For example, a staff member from the NDSU Center for Writers will come to a class period and lead these educators through a writing exercise that helps them efficiently develop their technical and academic writing while becoming more effective writers.
“Working with faculty across the NDSU Campus provides an interdisciplinary approach to the program and gives students an opportunity to get to know about additional campus resources and areas of expertise. It is great to see our faculty taking the lead with the use of this approach to graduate study in educational leadership,” said Virginia Clark-Johnson, dean of the College of Human Development and Education.
The NDSU School of Education uses a spiraling curriculum for the Leadership Academy. The method is based on a concept that a subject does not end after the class is over, but a student continues to build on that subject throughout the program.
In the Leadership Academy, NDSU takes time to learn the specific educational needs of a particular school district. By learning a school district’s needs, the NDSU School of Education can plan a master’s degree curriculum that not only meets state and national standards but also specifically helps a school district address the needs of their strategic plan.
For more information about the Leadership Academy program, go to www.ndsu.edu/dce/degrees/graduate/leadership_academy or contact Ann Clapper, assistant professor of practice in the School of Education, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 701-231-9772.
NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.