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Summer Principals Academy NOLA
Teachers College, Columbia University
teachers college logo columbia univertsity logo

in New Orleans

FAQ > Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the mission of the Summer Principals Academy?

The School Summer Principals Academy integrates practice and skill development with theory and research using case studies and simulations and teamwork. Aspiring school leaders are encouraged to construct transforming possibilities for student learning, school improvement, social equity, and opportunity.  We foster leadership development through an integrated set of experiences that include sound theoretical and "best practice" knowledge, problem-based coursework and field-based experiences, including an intensive and extended internship.  The following seven statements represent the core values of the Public School Summer Principals Academy:  
  • Quality education and education leadership are central to promoting social justice and diversity and these values are central to ethical leadership;
  • Excellent leadership development and preparation will nurture not only, knowledge, skills, and values, but also, personal self-actualization and transformation;
  • School leaders are responsible for nurturing not only the teaching and learning of all members of the school community but also for nurturing their own self-actualization and personal transformation;
  • Skillful collaboration and team work are essential to foster quality schools;
  • All aspects of leadership development and education will promote the practice of intellectually and ethically reflective leadership;
  • Active, participatory, learning that is rooted in actual school contexts, simulations, case-studies, and offers multiple opportunities to improve leadership skills is core to the curriculum; and
  • Innovation and risk-taking play a key role creating a vision and promoting educational change.

Who is the Director of the Summer Principals Academy- New Orleans?

Professor Craig Richards Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Education in the Department of Leadership and Organization is the Academy Director. A brief biography of Professor Richards can be found here

Does the program differ from other graduate school programs in education leadership?

The Summer Principal's Academy has been designed around a guiding framework that consists of four competency clusters and 28 associated competencies, which are embedded in each of the courses taken and experienced throughout the 14-month program. The Academy is designed around a cohort model: students work in cohorts that create an atmosphere of camaraderie, collegiality, and inquiry among participants. Innovative leadership training programs point to the cohort as one of the most significant attributes of professional development. Both professional and personal bonds develop, creating networks of friendship and support that last throughout careers.
The program is unique in that students do not leave their current teaching positions to pursue the program and receive their degree.  Their coursework is completed after 14 months, with two consecutive 5-week summer sessions and a 450-hour administrative internship during their intervening school year.

When does the program begin?

The first summer session for the beginning 2016 New Orleans cohort will begin on June 11th, 2016 and conclude on July 16, 2016. The returning 2015 cohort will begin on June 12th, 2016 and conclude on July 16, 2016.

What will I be studying?

The SPA curriculum framework is the result of intensive research in educational leadership and cutting-edge practices in effective school leadership that highlights strategies developed to employ and implement the instructional approaches that drive school improvement and student achievement. The framework consists of four competency clusters and 28 associated competencies, which are embedded in each of the courses taken and experienced throughout the 14-month program.

What is the size of the cohort?

We plan for enrollment in future cohorts to be approximately 45 students in New Orleans. Each course however, is taught by cofaculty as well as an instructional assistant. 

Why is there an emphasis on teamwork?

In the last decades, more and more organizations have been recognizing the advantages of collaboration. Public schools are no exception. Research indicates that effective organizations rely as much on how well people work together as upon individual excellence.

By working in teams, our students develop experience in pooling their knowledge, talents, and perspectives with others. They see not only that teamwork can lead to better solutions, but that it leads as well to increased commitment. When stakeholders are involved in decision-making early on, they are far more likely to be invested in the outcome.

What is the internship requirement?

A 450-hour Internship is completed between summers. An internship coach and the student’s cooperating school administrator provide support. The specific details are documented in an official Internship Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).


Is the Academy only useful to educators who want to become administrators?

No. We encourage all of our graduates to take leadership roles in their respective schools in order to further the blend between instruction and leadership. The Academy's goal is to teach educators how to be effective leaders, regardless of whether they become master teachers, principals or life-long administrators. Leadership is a very different proposition from administration or management, and is not contingent upon titular authority. Many schools rely on the effective leadership of their faculty as well as their administration, and the Academy strives to provide the knowledge necessary to answer this call.

Does the Summer Principals Academy program lead to graduate degrees?

Yes. The MA in Education Leadership, with a concentration in Public School Leadership is a 36-point (credit) Master of Arts degree offered by the Department of Organization and Leadership at Teachers College. A 60-point Ed.M. degree with the same concentration is also offered. Candidates with less than 24 prior graduate credits can apply for an M.A. degree and candidates with 24 or more prior graduate credits can apply for the Ed.M degree.

Who is eligible to apply for the Summer Principals Academy?

Most SPA candidates are Public or Charter School educators (teachers, instructional coaches, assistant principals, etc.) with at least a minimum of three years teaching experience. Candidates must secure the endorsement from the principal or superintendent of their sponsoring school. We look for students who demonstrate a commitment to education, have taken leadership initiative in their schools, and who are innovative thinkers. 

What type of certification will I receive?

SPA NOLA has been approved by the State of Louisiana.  Students looking to obtain certification in LA state will receive assistance about the certification application process from SPA NOLA staff.  Students looking to obtain certification in other states should contact SPA NOLA staff for assistance regarding the certification processes in these states. Each state has slightly different requirements and procedures.

How do I apply?

Candidates who wish to apply for the Summer Principals Academy must submit an application directly to Teachers College, Columbia University. To request information or apply for admission online, visit the Office of Admissions section of the Teachers College web site. Applications for admissions to the Summer Principals Academy can be submitted online starting September 15th, 2013.  
For more detailed information on the application process, contact the Assistant Director of Summer Principals Academy, Andrea Elnems at or 858-692-3653.

When is the application deadline for Summer Principals Academy?

The early application deadline for the 2016 cohort will be December 15th, 2015.  The final deadline is March 1, 2016.  The program reviews applicants on a rolling basis, early applicants receive priority treatment.

What does SPA look for in candidates?

We are seeking candidates who desire leadership responsibilities in order to make a difference in their schools so that all children can achieve at high standards. Applicants should have high self-awareness. Applicants should appreciate a rigorous academic preparation and also work well in a cohort of colleagues. They should have the ability to critically assess their own abilities and appreciate continuous improvement in their own education. Applicants should have a profound sense of integrity and an appreciation for equity in educational settings and an ability to communicate that to diverse stakeholders in their school communities. Applicants should have demonstrated leadership in their educational setting especially in working with groups of adults to bring about success in raising student achievement. We are especially looking for educators who have an express desire to work in urban communities.

What is the relationship between Teachers College and the Summer Principals Academy?

The Academy is part of the College's Department of Organization and Leadership, has the full support of both the College and the Department, and enjoys the full resources of Columbia University.

Approximately 5,000 students are currently enrolled at the College in programs leading to both Master's and Doctoral degrees in fields ranging from clinical and organizational psychology to curriculum and teaching. Nearly 130 full-time faculty members teach and conduct research in the college's various schools.

Teachers College ranks consistently in the top three graduate schools of education in the nation by US News and World Report. For more information about Teachers College, Columbia University, visit the College's web site.

How long does it take to complete a degree?

The Summer Principals Academy's 14-month curriculum fulfills the requirements for an M.A./Ed.M in Education Leadership (on-site during two summers plus projects/research at the school site in the intervening year).

Students who currently hold a master's degree in a field related to education may earn the Ed.M. by completing the Summer Principals Academy and transferring up to 24 points of their previous coursework to meet the 60 credits requirement for the Ed.M. degree.

Is financial aid available?

Last year Teachers College awarded over $7 million of its own funds in scholarship and stipend aid and $2 million in endowed funds to new and continuing students. Most scholarship awards are made on the basis of academic merit. The Summer Principals Academy targets assistance to support teachers from urban schools. Scholarships are applied to tuition only and students should expect to provide additional funds for the tuition balance, medical insurance, fees, academic and living expenses.

Since the program commences in June, students are advised to begin their financial aid application as soon as possible since it can take up to two months to process the FAFSA and other financial aid documents. In addition to the FAFSA, all students must complete a TC Financial Aid and Scholarship Application to be considered for aid and scholarship. For additional financial aid information including loans, students should contact the Office of Student Aid at 212.678.3714 or visit the website.

Is housing available in New Orleans?

Yes. We will have more information on housing available soon.