Over the last decade, New Orleans public schools have seen unprecedented improvement in student academic outcomes, including the academic growth for over 4,000 students with learning differences, over 13% of the student population. However, these recent improvements and potential future advances in special education are threatened by a dearth of skilled teachers. A 2014 survey revealed that the supply of high-quality special education leaders does not meet the city-wide need. Skilled special education leaders are difficult to find, develop, and retain. This shortage is due to a lack of system-wide coordination and collaboration among educators to identify and share research-based best practices to educate students with learning differences. SELF has been specifically designed to meet the unique professional development needs of special education leaders, aspiring special education leaders, and their principals in New Orleans.


The Leader Fellowship

The Leader Fellowship provides the following elements to develop special education leaders:

  • Training in leadership skills and content expertise with a cohort of peers working as special education and RTI coordinators.
  • On-the-job training including 1:1 coaching from SELF experts, program reviews, and critical friends visits.
  • National school visits to learn from excellent programs serving students with disabilities in a high-quality way.

Specialized Development Cohorts

SELF’s Specialized Development Cohorts equip teachers with research-based instructional knowledge and skills in order to provide quality instruction to students in special education or intervention.

Components of each Cohort include:

  • Training Sessions led by experts in the field

  • Job-Embedded Coaching

  • Professional Learning Communities



 We believe every student can
achieve exceptional potential.


We take personal responsibility for helping all of our students attain their full potential.


We will collaborate with and lead
others to serve students.