Aug 16, 2021

Yearlong Fellowship to Train Next Generation of Special Education Leaders to Improve Outcomes for Students with Disabilities 

BATON ROUGE, La. – Fifteen Louisiana special education (SPED) leaders have been selected to participate in cohort two of SPED Fellow Academy, a yearlong, comprehensive development program for novice special education leaders across the state. The program will provide in-person training and coaching and a community of practice that will instill the knowledge and skills the next generation of leaders need to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. 

View a list of the participating leaders by school system.

“Developing special education leadership cannot be overlooked in Louisiana,” said Dr. Cade Brumley, State Superintendent of Education. “I’m thankful for these educators' decision to build their capacity to support teachers, students, and families.”  

Participants will also receive coaching from five experienced special education leaders with extensive leadership experience and track records of improving outcomes for students with disabilities. These coaches represent diverse experiences in public and charter school systems across Louisiana. The mentor-coaches include Carla Parrie from Sabine Parish School District, Cheramie Kerth from St. Bernard Parish Public Schools, Dr. Shayla Guidry Hilarie from New Orleans Public Schools Schools, Emily Waterfield from KIPP New Orleans, and Roxane West from DeSoto Parish Schools.  

Throughout the program, fellows will engage in an Executive Learning Project which is a framework for leading systems-level change to improve educational outcomes for students with disabilities. At the conclusion of the program, fellows will present their Executive Learning Projects to a panel of experts during the final colloquium. Mentor-coaches will provide expert coaching to fellows in the development and implementation of their Executive Learning Projects. 

Upon successful completion of SPED Fellow Academy, fellows will obtain a SPED Fellow Distinction on their EDL (education leader) certificate. 

A competitive process to select the second cohort of fellows began in early April. The process was run by a selection committee comprising members of the Department’s Diverse Learner Supports Division, experienced special education leaders from across the state, and cohort one fellows of SPED Fellow Academy. Ultimately, 15 fellows were chosen based on their past experience in special education, their dedication to providing high-quality educational programming to students with disabilities and their potential to create lasting positive impact for students in their school systems.

"Being a mentor-coach is a great privilege because there is powerful potential in the community of practice that will be cultivated by a collective network of special education leaders that are working towards a common vision," said Emily Waterfield, Managing Director, Student Support Services for KIPP New Orleans. "And when we consider the tangible implementation of the LDOE's priorities through its investment in SPED Fellow Academy, the potential impact that this program will have on students, families, and communities is inspiring."

About SPED Fellow Academy

In October 2019, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) secured a five-year, $1 million federal “Special Education Leadership Grant” to launch the program. The program is designed to build upon the state's existing and successful fellowship programs for educators and administrators, such as the Principal Leader Fellowship Program and the Content Leader pathway.

The program launched in July 2021 and will run through June 2022. During that period, there will be ten all day training sessions and six supplemental online collaboration sessions. All day-long sessions will take place in Baton Rouge. 

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