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DONNA THOMAS TAPPED FOR INITIATIVE TO PREPARE ASPIRING SUPERINTENDENTS

posted Jul 11, 2013, 4:23 AM by JODIE BRYANT

DONNA THOMAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF ELEMENTARY EDUCATION for HOKE COUNTY SCHOOLS will take part in the Aspiring Superintendent Fellows Program, a new initiative to increase North Carolina’s pool of highly qualified top school district leaders.

The two-year fellow program seeks to increase the number of well-prepared potential superintendents through experiential learning and executive coaching. The leadership development includes both a year-long series of seminars addressing topics such as cultural change within organizations and development of high-performing teams as well as state-of-the-art assessments that allow fellows to understand their specific development needs. The coaching component extends over both years.

A 17-year educator, Thomas has been in her current position since 2008. Prior to that, she served as an education consultant, teacher and teacher assistant.

The fellows program has been developed and is delivered by Strategic Leadership By Design, a non-profit led by Janice Davis, a former Deputy State Superintendent of Public Instruction and Granville County superintendent. Larry Coble, a former superintendent in four North Carolina school districts and executive director of the 15-district Piedmont Triad Education Consortium, is the fellow's program leader.

Between 2010 and 2012, North Carolina school districts hired 54 superintendents, with nearly half of the state’s districts picking a new top leader in that time. Of those hired, 43 were first-time superintendents. Aspiring Superintendent Fellows agree to apply for superintendent’s positions or positions leading to a superintendency after they complete the two-year program.

“In order for each child to leave school well prepared for life, public schools need top notch leaders.  This program addresses that need.  School systems are no different than other complex organizations that strive for high performance – highly effective leadership matters,” said Leslie Winner, executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, which supports the Aspiring Superintendent Fellows Program through its grant-making. “The fellows program fills a critical gap in North Carolina by assisting talented educators in acquiring the attributes, skills and motivation to lead school districts successfully.”

The inaugural class of Aspiring Superintendent Fellows includes a diverse group of ten men and eight women.  Seventeen fellows hold doctorate degrees or are currently pursuing one. 

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