FAQs | Summer Principals Academy NYC and NOLA New York City New Orleans | Organization and Leadership

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Summer Principals Academy in New Orleans

The Education Leadership Program in the Department of Organization and Leadership

Frequently Asked Questions

The Summer  Principals Academy|New Orleans (SPA|NOLA) integrates practice and skill development with theory and research using case studies,simulations, and teamwork. Aspiring school leaders are encouraged to construct transformative  possibilities for student learning, school improvement, and social equity. SPA|NOLA fosters leadership development through an integrated set of experiences that include building a repository of theoretical and "best practice" knowledge, engaging with problem-based coursework, and undertaking field-based internship. The following seven statements represent the core values of SPA|NOLA:  

  • Quality education and ethical  leadership are central to promoting social justice and diversity;

  • Effective leadership development and preparation will enhance not only knowledge, skills, and values, but it also leads to self-actualization and sustainable fulfillment;
  • School leaders are responsible for nurturing not only the learning and growth of all members of the school community but also for nurturing their own development and wellbeing ;
  • Strategic collaboration and efficient teamwork are essential to building quality learning environments ;

  • All aspects of leadership development will promote the practice of intellectually and ethically reflective leadership;

  • Active and participatory learning that is rooted in actual school contexts as well as simulations and case-studies offer multiple opportunities to improve leadership skills in the SPA|NOLA curriculum;

  • Innovation and risk-taking play a key role in preparing the educational leader who is capable of ushering public schools to an era of educational excellence and achievements.

Dr. Brian K. Perkins is the Director of the Summer Principals Academy|New Orleans. A brief biography of Dr. Perkins can be found here

SPA|NOLA has been designed around a guiding framework that consists of four competency clusters and 28 associated competencies. These competency clusters and associated competencies are embedded in the coursework, internship and other program activities throughout the 14-month period. SPA|NOLA is designed around a cohort model. This model enables students to work in an atmosphere of collegiality and collective inquiry. Effective leadership training programs point to the cohort model as one of the most impactful curricular designs in the field of educational leadership. Both professional and personal bonds develop, creating networks of friendship and support that last throughout careers.

SPA|NOLA is unique in that students do not leave their current professional positions to pursue the program. The coursework is completed after 14 months, with two consecutive 5-week summer sessions and a 450-hour administrative internship during the intervening school year.


The first summer session for the 2018 cohort will begin on Saturday June 9th, 2018 and conclude on Saturday, July 14th, 2018.

The SPA|NOLA curriculum framework is the result of intensive research in educational leadership and cutting-edge practices in effective school transformation and improvement. The framework consists of four competency clusters and 28 associated competencies, all of which are embedded in the coursework experienced throughout the 14-month program. Topics such as law and ethics in educational leadership, data-driven decision making, and efficient resource allocation for student achievement are among the many critical themes that students in SPA|NOLA get to explore.

Typically, our cohorts consist of 35 to 40 students. The small size of the cohort enables the building of stronger collegial relationships that, in turn, have great learning value to our students. Courses at SPA|NOLA have typically been taught by two faculty members and supported by an instructional assistant.

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 and resilience while facing intractable challenges. When members of a team are involved in decision-making at an earlier stage of any project in a public school setting, they are far more likely to be invested in achieving the collective goal.

A 450-hour Internship in School Leadership is completed during the intervening year between the two summer sessions. The internship is 6 credits. An internship coach and the student’s cooperating school administrator provide support throughout the internship period. The specific details of the internship are documented in the Internship Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), which students receive upon enrollment in the program.

No. We encourage all of our graduates to take leadership roles in their respective domains within a school. The objective is to merge instruction with leadership in all aspects of public education. SPA|NOLA’s goal is to assist educators in their growth to become effective leaders, regardless of whether they become master teachers, principals or administrators. Leadership is not synonymous with administration or management. It is a versatile framework of thinking and skill set that students in SPA|NOLA learn to utilize in all aspects of their lives.

Yes. It can lead to either Master of Arts degree or Master of Education degree depending on the applicant’s educational credentials. The Master of Arts (MA) in Education Leadership, with a concentration in Public School Leadership, is a 36-point (credit) degree offered by the Department of Organization and Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. The Master of Education (Ed.M.) in Education Leadership, with a concentration in Public School Leadership, is a 60-point (credit) degree offered by the same department. Applicants with less than 24 prior graduate credits can apply for an M.A. degree and applicants with 24 or more prior graduate credits can apply for the Ed.M. degree.

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

Students enrolled in the Summer Principals Academy-New Orleans (SPA|NOLA)do not receive any certification. Students may be qualified in their home state for certification and should inquire directly with their respective state certification office about the process. If you have questions about certification, please contact the Assistant Program Director, Mark Schanzenbach at ms5551@tc.columbia.edu

Candidates who wish to apply for SPA|NOLA must submit an application directly to Teachers College, Columbia University. To apply for admission online click Here. To learn more about the admission requirements and process or to request information, please visit the Office of Admissions section of the Teachers College website.

Applications for admission to SPA|NOLA for academic year 2018-2019 can be submitted online starting from September 1st, 2017.

All candidates who pass the initial review will participate in a video interview with the Director of the program, Dr. Brian Perkins, and a faculty member via the software, Zoom. Instructions for installing Zoom can be found Here.

For more detailed information on the application process, contact the Assistant Director of Admissions, Ms. Nicole Siniscalchi at siniscalchi@tc.edu or via phone on 212-678-3730.

The application deadline for the 2018 cohort is March 1st, 2018. The program reviews applications on a rolling basis; early applicants receive priority consideration.


Completion of the GRE is not required at any stage for admission to SPA|NOLA.

The program seeks candidates who pursue leadership responsibilities for the ultimate goal of holistically supporting children during their learning journey. Applicants should have high self-awareness, innovative mindset, and strategic risk-taking approach. Applicants should appreciate a rigorous academic preparation and also need to work well in a cohort arrangement. They should have the ability to critically assess their own abilities and commit to continuous improvement in their own learning. Applicants should have a profound sense of integrity, a dedication for equity, and an ability to communicate their values to diverse stakeholders in their school communities. Applicants should have demonstrated leadership in their respective educational settings especially in collaborative and team-based projects. The program is especially looking for candidates who have an express desire to work in urban communities.

SPA|NOLA 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 Teachers College in programs leading to both Master 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 departments.

Teachers College ranks consistently in the top ten 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 website.


SPA|NOLA’s 14-month curriculum fulfills the requirements for an M.A. and Ed.M. in education leadership (on-site classes during two summer sessions in addition to an administrative internship at the school site in the intervening academic year).

Students who currently hold a Master's degree in a field related to education may earn the Ed.M. by completing the SPA|NOLA program and transferring up to 24 points (credit) of their previous coursework to meet the 60-point (credit) requirement for the Ed.M. degree.


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 SPA|NOLA 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, College 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, applicants should contact the Office of Financial Aid at financialaid@tc.edu or at 212.678.3714.

Yes. For the summer sessions, SPA|NOLA arranges housing at Loyola University, New Orleans’ dorms. The full housing fees need to be paid by the students. For summer session 2017, the cost of a room was around USD $1,000. The cost for summer session 2018 may slightly vary. Students who wish to stay at the Loyola University, New Orleans dorms need to provide a deposit to SPA|NOLA during Student Orientation. Details about the dorms and payment process will be communicated to the students closer to Student Orientation.

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