BY JOHN H. WALKER
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
A North Carolina State University program that directly benefits Edgecombe County public schools has received a $4.7 million grant to help it grow.
The U.S. Department of Education awarded the grant to help the university expand its efforts to train principals and assistant principals in 13 hard-to-staff school districts in the
northeastern region of the state.
Thirteen districts will benefit from an expanded North East Leadership
Academy (NELA), which offers specialized instruction in school
administration, a weeklong summer institute and expert executive coaches
Edgecombe County Supt. John Farrelly said, "I am thrilled that North Carolina State University has received additional federal funding to support the NELA Program. Edgecombe County Public Schools has been a part of the NELA program for the past three years. The District currently has a cadre of quality administrators who have
either graduated from the program or who are currently in their
"It's hard to attract and retain leaders in areas where you have
geographic isolation, high poverty rates and low-performing schools. You
have to build your own leadership team," said Dr. Bonnie Fusarelli,
associate professor in the College of Education and principal investigator
for the grant.
"There's a critical need in this region, and it's a part of NC State's
mission as a land-grant university to reach out to schools in historically
Farrelly said the program does an excellent job for the county.
“The training our administrators receive is of the highest
quality,” he noted. “Full time one-year internships really prepare upcoming
administrators to step into key leadership roles ready to excel."
The grant will allow NELA, which began in 2010, to enroll two new cohorts
of 15 educators each in a two-year curriculum. NELA graduates complete a
yearlong internship, earn a master's degree in school administration and
agree to work in one of 13 northeastern school districts for three years
after completing the program. NELA 2.0 will include a new component on
school leadership in a digital learning environment.
In all, Fusarelli aims to reach 100 principals through in-depth training
and specialized sessions over the next five years, when the need for
school leaders in the region is expected to spike.
"Fifty percent of principals in these districts will be eligible for
retirement over the course of the grant, so there's a pressing need to
have leaders in the pipeline," she said.
The 13 participating districts for NELA are Warren, Bertie, Hertford,
Northampton, Roanoke Rapids, Halifax, Weldon City, Martin, Franklin,
Edgecombe, Vance, Nash-Rocky Mount and Granville.
Farrelly and Stocks Elementary School Principal Erin Swanson (NELA graduate) will be able to let the State Board of Education know their feelings about NELA, as they have been invited to present with North Carolina State officials at the November state meeting.