The Special Education Leader Fellowship was created in 2015 to meet the need for high-quality special education programming in New Orleans schools. The two-year fellowship develops Special Education leaders, teacher-leaders, aspiring leaders, and RtI Coordinators to create high-impact programs for students with learning differences.
The mission of SELF is to improve the quality of special education programming by developing highly skilled special education leaders in schools.
Fellows have a core development program that includes a one week summer experience, six formal training sessions, individualized monthly Leadership Coaching, Peer Program Reviews, and a National School Visits trip.
Special Education leaders work in partnership with their school leaders, and SELF works to nurture a shared vision and core understandings between special education leader and their school leaders. In addition, school leaders are required to:
- Officially endorse Fellow candidates as part of the formal application process
- Attend two half-day sessions annually
- Agree to release the Fellow for one day for a Peer Program Review at another school
- Agree to host a Peer Program Review at their school
- Release the Fellow for three days for the National School Visits trip
- Release the Fellow for two half day workshops scheduled during the school week
Fellows have various professional titles, but are Special Education or RTI leaders (coordinator, director, or other teacher leader) or aspiring leaders whose primary responsibility is the success of students with exceptionalities.
Additionally, they have:
- 2 years of teacher experience, as of first year in the Fellowship.
- Teacher-leadership responsibilities (for example, leading team meetings, coaching other teachers, planning professional development, analyzing data to improve learning, co-planning, etc.)
- Principal support to develop their professional competencies through the 2-year Fellowship.
- A commitment of at least two years to their current school.
Currently, SELF serves 33 Fellows from 27 public/charter schools across the Greater New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas. Application priority is given to Fellows serving students at high-needs public schools. SELF has partnered with 19 Charter Management Organizations in its three years, including ARISE Schools, Bricolage Academy, Crescent City Schools, FirstLine Schools, The International School of Louisiana, KIPP: New Orleans Schools, The NET, New Orleans College Prep, and ReNEW Schools.