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Developing a generation of school leaders

New partnership focuses on the next generation of school administrators

A new partnership with Gardner-Webb University will help Gaston County Schools develop the next generation of school administrators.

Twelve teachers in Gaston County Schools will be chosen for a 20-month program, completing 36 credit hours that leads to a master’s degree in school administration.  Offered through the Superintendent’s Leadership Academy, Superintendent of Schools W. Jeffrey Booker is encouraging teachers who have thought about becoming a principal, assistant principal, or central office supervisor/director to take a serious look at the program.

“We are extremely proud of this new professional opportunity for teachers in Gaston County Schools, and we are grateful for Gardner-Webb University’s commitment to helping us train and develop future leaders in our school family,” said Dr. Booker.  “This program is ideal for teachers who want to advance their career and serve in a leadership role such as assistant principal, principal, curriculum/academic facilitator, dean of students, and lead/content teacher.”

Teachers chosen for the program progress through the coursework together as a cohort.  Classes in online format meet for 10 weeks, three hours per week (Tuesdays from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. and Thursdays from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.)  The cohort also meets in person three Saturdays during the semester from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at the Linda Rader Staff Development Center in Cramerton.  Classes focus on executive leadership, resource management, curriculum development, research and assessment, and other topics. 

According to Dr. Booker, tuition is free for the 12 teachers chosen for the program; participants will have to pay for their books, which will be about $200 a semester.  Through the partnership, Gardner-Webb will cover tuition for half of the participants while the school district uses professional development funds to pay the tuition for the other half.  The cost is estimated at $20,000 per teacher.

“Gardner-Webb’s willingness to work with us on the cost is a significant factor.  Sometimes, teachers have an interest in becoming a school administrator and show promise of being an excellent one, but they do not have the financial resources to pay for a master’s degree,” explained Dr. Booker.  “This partnership takes that burden out of the equation so teachers can work toward fulfilling their educational career goals.  We realize that this is a substantial financial investment, but we have to invest in our workforce today so our schools will have leaders tomorrow.”  

A teacher applying for the program must be employed currently by Gaston County Schools and have a continuing professional license for educators.  Other requirements include holding a bachelor’s or equivalent degree from an accredited college or university; having a minimum 2.7 grade point average on undergraduate or master’s level coursework; having worked as a classroom teacher for at least three years; committing to work in Gaston County Schools for at least five years after completing the program; and having a willingness to present workshops at district leadership events such as the Teaching and Learning Conference.  No GRE or MAT score is required.

The deadline to apply is September 3.  Interested teachers should submit their resume and a copy of their teaching license to the Gaston County Schools Academic Services Department.  Interviews will be held the week of September 6, and selection will be announced the week of September 13.  Classes begin October 2.  For more information, contact Academic Services at (704) 866-6231.

Dr. Booker concluded, “We estimate that more than two thirds of the school administrators in Gaston County Schools already have 20 or more years of service, which means they can retire sometime in the next 10 years.  That is why we must act now to identify, train, and develop school administrators for the future.  This new program is a win-win for Gaston County Schools and Gardner-Webb University, and we are excited to see how it will benefit our teachers, our schools, and our community.”