Principal Certification: The Power of Cohort-Based Learning
“We’re family,” explains Dashe Rowland, a New Leaders alum and first-year principal. This is how she describes the cohort of leaders who completed our year-long principal certification program alongside her. “They will never leave,” she adds.
Recently featured in District Administration, Rowland reflects on her journey to the principal role, what helped her get there and what sustains her now as principal at LaSalle Language Academy in Chicago. Her mindset is all about students. “What is best for the children? If you don’t know, ask them,” she told District Administration. “Student voice will carry the way. Allow what’s best for the students to guide your decisions and you will never go wrong.”
Encouraged to pursue school leadership by other experienced school leaders, Rowland completed our principal certification program in 2019, which included a principal residency program combined with expert coaching, which according to District Administration, gave her the “behind-the-scenes experience pivotal in becoming the authentic and transformative leader she is today.”
“We call our cohort by numbers,” she explains. “I’m cohort 19, and we always say we are the pandemic cohort. … They will always be my thought partners, my journey partners, and my accountability partners. The coaches that were offered to me, I can call and count on them at any time of the day.”
"My cohort will always be my thought partners, my journey partners, and my accountability partners.”
Our National Aspiring Principals Fellowship
Today, New Leaders offers pathways to principal certification—with or without a master’s degree—through our National Aspiring Principals Fellowship. Designed in partnership with two preeminent minority-serving institutions—Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University—the Fellowship is uniquely designed with leaders of color, for teachers of color.
Our program prepares full-time teachers with the skills required to explore, understand and lead with a culturally responsive and social justice mindset in their school communities. Fellows fulfill certification and residency requirements without giving up their full-time employment, completing the Fellowship in their schools, in their current roles with coursework done online.
Here’s what makes the Fellowship unique
The Fellowship equips equity-focused teachers with the skills and practices they need to become highly effective school principals—like Rowland. Here’s how it works:
Doing the real work of schools is what prepares you for the principal role. Our job-embedded residency offers opportunities to exercise your leadership, apply your learning, and complete a capstone research project in your current school. From observing and coaching teachers to leading an instructional leadership team, you strengthen your capacity to lead from day one.
Engaging with a community of diverse, like-minded leaders from across the country allows you to collaborate, problem solve, and continuously improve alongside your peers. In an atmosphere of trust and support, you build meaningful relationships and host rich conversations that are key to ongoing learning. This network will also sustain you as you lead.
“New Leaders is still offering resources to me. And my cohort, they are truly a part of my life.”
Every month, our expert coaches, all current and former principals, provide immediate and actionable feedback to support you in your residency. Effective coaching enables you to slow down, reflect, elevate different perspectives, and problem solve the gap between where you are and where you want to go as a leader. Self-reflection, coupled with accountability and support, accelerates your leadership growth.
Distinguished faculty with equity-focused expertise
Our faculty are a diverse and deeply experienced team of professionals and education leaders. Members of this esteemed group of award-winning principals, superintendents, and equity champions have an average of 22 years of educational leadership experience, making them ideal guides to prepare you to step into the principal role with confidence.
Our nation’s schools need well-prepared leaders
The impact of a strong school principal cannot be underestimated. Now is the time to develop more leaders like Rowland and provide them with the kind of professional support that ensures their lasting success.
“New Leaders is still offering resources to me” Rowland explains. “And my cohort, they are truly a part of my life.” Now is your time. Take that next step into school leadership—and apply to the Fellowship and be a part of our next cohort. Or, if you’re a system leader, bring the Fellowship to your district and build a pipeline of effective leaders.