In fall 2020, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) and the North Carolina Advancing Charter Collaboration and Excellence for Student Success (NC ACCESS) Program in the Office of Charter Schools partnered with Appalachian State University to offer the Aspiring Minority School Leaders Program through its school leadership graduate program, which is housed in the Reich College of Education.
The Aspiring Minority School Leaders Program is designed to recruit, support, and build a pipeline of minority school leaders prepared to meet the challenges of leading schools for educational equity. The state initially funded 15 students drawn from charter schools in North Carolina (Meet the Aspiring Minority School Leaders). The initial cohort of students completed their studies in May 2022.
On Tuesday, June 7, 2022, NCDPI celebrated these students at a ceremony that was attended by RCOE program faculty, NCDPI officials, and charter school directors. At the inaugural event, each student received a certificate of completion and two books - Street Data by Shane Safir and Jamila Dugan and Equity By Design by Mirko Chardin and Katie Novak.
“This partnership between NCDPI, charter schools, and the leadership in school administration program is a moment of pride for us because other universities are already approaching DPI to participate in The Aspiring Minority School Leaders Program,” said Dr. Precious Mudiwa, professor in the Department of Leadership and Educational Studies and program director for the school administration program.
“We are so happy to announce that Dr. Barbara O’Neal, Coordinator of The Aspiring Minority School Leaders Program, has committed another 10 students that will enroll in the Master of School Administration cohort in Spring 2023,” added Mudiwa. “She said DPI is very happy with the quality and rigor of our programs and will once again fully fund these students.”
“This model has increased racial diversity in our programs, served as a critical recruiting tool, and expanded student learning experiences and program outcomes,” Mudiwa noted. “We are extremely grateful to DPI and our partnering Charter Schools.”
Samatha Villegas, one of the graduates, who was recently appointed principal at Kestrel Heights Charter School, shared at the recognition event that she felt App State fully prepared her for the job and will continue to do so.
“I recently faced a crisis at my school, and I sought advice from Dr. Gummerson, who immediately guided me through the crisis,” said Villegas.