The U.S. Department of Education awarded the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) $2.5 million today, in partnership with the University of South Carolina and the Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity (BranchED), to build the capacity of South Carolina’s principals and school leaders in supporting science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and social-emotional learning for students. This 3-year grant from the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program will support principal coaching and training, with a focus on advancing equity for all students, in the following six districts, reaching 150 administrators in 95 schools who serve a total of 58,000 students: · Orangeburg County School District· School District of Pickens County· Laurens County School District 55· Spartanburg County School District One· South Carolina Public Charter School District· Schools affiliated with the Charter Institute at Erskine The partnership will create the South Carolina Principal Leadership Network, a two-year cohort-based program that will administer high-quality virtual professional development in STEM and social-emotional learning (SEL), coupled with quarterly on-site coaching and networking opportunities through virtual communities of practice. The training will be rooted in evidence-based practices that accelerate student achievement growth and will be tailored to the needs of the participating school leaders, teachers, and students. In addition, the inclusion of BranchED, which supports effective educator preparation at minority-serving institutions, will allow the partnership to put a particular focus on serving leaders from diverse backgrounds. “Equipping students with the skills and knowledge to be successful and helping them to become informed and thoughtful citizens goes hand in hand,” said NIET CEO Dr. Candice McQueen. “This partnership will equip school leaders across South Carolina to better support their teachers and advance STEM and SEL efforts in their schools that better prepare all students to be able to choose their path in life. We are particularly glad to have the University of South Carolina and BranchED as partners to advance equity, build the capacity of a diverse group of teachers, and increase opportunities for students.” NIET will provide on-site coaching and networking opportunities, and NIET specialists will deliver professional development that focuses on creating and communicating a culture of equity, shared instructional leadership, and creating a culture of reflective practice and continuous improvement. Additionally, through this grant, University of South Carolina faculty will provide principals and leaders with training designed to encourage equity of access to high-quality STEM education for all students. BranchED will focus their support on leading culturally relevant pedagogy to foster inclusion and integration of social-emotional learning and work with NIET on connecting principals to learn from each other through the virtual communities of practice. This innovative project will align principals’ needs with evidence-based practices for excellence in leadership. The support provided in the partnership will provide a powerful tool for advancing school leaders’ leadership capacity and improving educator retention, school culture, and student outcomes − and it has the potential to become a model for school leader support and development nationwide.
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