Fellows develop the core leadership and technical skills necessary to:

Develop and implement a vision of excellent special education programming.

Increase the instructional skills of special education teachers, general education teachers, and other members of the IEP team to meet the range of student needs.

Lead high performing teams that will transform special education serves for their students.

The Special Education Leader Fellowship is a 2-year cohort-based program designed to improve educational programming for students with exceptionalities starting with special education and RTI teacher leaders as the main unit of change. Targeting current and aspiring special education leaders and RTI coordinators, this program leads to direct improvement of special education programming in schools.

Additionally, SELF works to nurture a shared vision and core understandings between between principals and Fellows.

Transformative improvement of special education programming in schools requires leaders who have mastered core competencies of leadership knowledge, technical skills, and mindsets. The Special Education Leader Fellowship Framework identifies those competencies and creates the fabric of the Fellowship curriculum.

The Special Education Leader Fellowship Framework includes the following pillars:

Developing a vision of excellent programming:

Fellows experience exemplary special education programming in action and develop strategic plans to support their vision for excellence.

Meeting the range of needs:

Fellows learn and research effective practices necessary to address the range of unique student needs. Additionally, they learn the competencies required to provide on-going support and development of general and special education teachers.

Developing teachers, parents, service providers, and students as partners:

Fellows develop collaboration skills to forge alliances with all stakeholders to ensure everyone is working together to meet the student’s needs.

Leading adults:

Fellows develop the adult leadership and management skills necessary to lead a high performing special education team in schools.

The Leader Fellowship learning experiences are based on the latest research on adult learning and the best practices for successful student support. The Special Education Leader Fellowship provides learning experiences that are interconnected, engaging, and sustained over time, creating the coherent infrastructure required for deep learning.

Professional Development Training Sessions

Summer Experience
Summer Experience is an annual, week-long training that includes workshops with national experts and high-performing practitioners. Over the course of the week, Fellows develop a shared vision for outstanding programming in schools, perform a personal leadership assessment, and engage in strategic planning for the coming school year.

Fellow Training Sessions
These four formal training sessions occur during the school year and target the development of technical and leadership skills. During these sessions, Fellows are introduced to new key competences, practice emerging skills, and deepen their learning of previously introduced concepts.

Fellow & Principal Training Sessions
During the school year, principals join Fellows for two training sessions. Sessions are designed to create in-school partnerships that support Fellows’ work and lead to highly effective special education programming in their schools.

In-School, Individualized Development

Leadership Coaching
Leadership coaches help fellows learn from their journey. Each Fellow receives a minimum of 16 school-embedded coaching sessions. Leadership coaches provide responsive support to Fellows aimed at:

  1. Improving Fellows’ skills to more effectively lead their teams;
  2. Providing feedback on the quality of special education programming in the schools; and
  3. Supporting fellows to advocate for change through partnership and service to students.

Peer Program Reviews
Fellows join the SELF staff for peer reviews of each others’ special education programming. Based on SELF’s Vision of Excellence Rubric, Fellows give and receive feedback regarding the strengths and priorities for program improvement. These reviews provide valuable learning experiences and provide an avenue for collaboration and sharing of best practices. Fellows use the feedback from Peer Program Reviews to set goals, plan action steps, implement change, and evaluate progress. Principals are invited to fully participate.

Collaboration With Excellence

National School Visits
On this trip, Fellows see examples of what is possible! The National School Visits take Fellows to other city to experience high quality special education programming rooted in best practices research. Fellows learn from exemplary special education programming and gather artifacts and resources to integrate into their practice. School principals and other senior leaders are encouraged to join the trip.

Critical Friends Meetings
Critical Friends Meetings occur four times per year and provide a structured space for Fellows to collaborate and find solutions to solve common challenges. Fellows will improve their ability to facilitate meetings and to tackle common leadership challenges.


What is the Leader Fellowship Program?

The Leader Fellowship Program is a selective 2-year program designed to improve educational programming for New Orleans students with exceptionalities starting with special education leaders as the main unit of change. Targeting current and aspiring special education leaders, this program leads to direct improvement of special education programming in schools and ensures that all students reach their fullest potential. 

What are the Leader Fellowship program elements?

  • 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 .

Will the applicant need a principal endorsement?

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

Can interested candidates participate in the Leader Fellowship program if he/she works on the CMO/district level?

Yes, a candidate can also hold a position at the CMO/district level and be a participant in SELF. The candidate will have to meet the same requirements as a school building SELF candidate.

What are the requirements for fellows?

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.

Who would benefit most from the Leader Fellowship program?

Current and aspiring special education leaders and RTI coordinators, would benefit most from being a member of SELF. SELF leads to direct improvement of special education programming in schools.

Apply to the Special Education Leader Fellowship Today!

Have any questions? Get in touch!