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Teachers take part in Leadership Academy

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Fourteen West Fargo school teachers are the first in North Dakota to participate in North Dakota State University’s new Leadership Academy Master’s Program.

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The Academy, one of few in the nation, is a pilot program that provides district teachers the opportunity to gain leadership skills that will prepare them for varying levels of leadership within the West Fargo school system.

“The main goal for the West Fargo School 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,” said Superintendent David Flowers.

“We planned for a year and a half before we kicked it off,” said Beth Slette, West Fargo assistant superintendent of elementary education.

The 18-month Leadership Academy began in May with the participants meeting monthly through summer.

The 14 participants who applied for the program were required to submit letters of recommendation, and follow a process similar to applying for graduate school, Slette said.

The K-12 group includes classroom, art, music, physical education and technology instructors who are all beginning a master’s degree program, she said.

The Academy is a 30-credit program. Once completed, participants can earn another six credits and receive a principal’s credential, Slette said.

The program 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.

NDSU is one of only a few universities nationwide to offer a master’s program based on the Leadership Academy model.

Kansas State University is another, its program co-directed by associate professor Mary Devin.

Flowers once served as Devin’s associate superintendent in a school district that has an active Leadership Academy program.

“Because of this connection, I was well aware of the powerful impact the Leadership Academy model has on school districts,” Flowers said.

That was enough for the West Fargo School District to collaborate with NDSU to launch its program, he said.

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