Education and Allied Professions receives grant from General Assembly for school leader preparation

Asheville City Schools Superintendent Denise Patterson (center) discusses school leadership and management with Transforming Principal Preparation Program scholars Susanna Smith (left), an operations manager at Asheville Primary School, and Rebecca Wertheim (right), a second-grade teacher at Claxton Elementary School.

Western Carolina University’s College of Education and Allied Professions is the recipient of a major grant from the North Carolina General Assembly to aid in the preparation of future school leaders and administrators.

A Transforming Principal Preparation Program grant, with legislative funding of $700,000 to the university over two years, is recognition of the state’s educational leadership needs and WCU’s ability to produce exceptional educators, said Jess Weiler, assistant professor and director of WCU’s Educational Leadership Program.

The grant will provide 10 students in WCU’s master’s in school administration program with scholarships that cover full tuition and paid internships in partnership with school systems across Western North Carolina, as well as cover costs of leadership learning opportunities through professional conferences. The state is in need of high quality principals and assistant principals who can lead schools to meet the 21st-century needs of students and communities across the state, Weiler said.

The General Assembly established the competitive grant program to provide funds for preparing and supporting highly effective school leaders and administrators in the state. WCU was among the early institutions receiving grants, with a $400,561 two-year award. “In total, the MSA program will have received $1,100,561 across four years, from 2016-2020, directly supporting 20 students while improving school leadership broadly, across the western region,” Weiler said.

WCU provides a rigorous course of study that prepares highly effective school leaders. Upon program completion, graduates are ready to meet state and national standards for school leadership, including the ability to advance student learning using equitable practices; lead change through distributed and shared leadership; engage and partner with the community; and manage the day-to-day operations required of school leaders.

For information on applying to WCU’s master’s degree in school administration or post-master’s certificate in public school leadership and the principal preparation program, contact program director Heidi Von Dohlen at 828-227-3311 or hbvondohlen@wcu.edu.