Spalding, JCPS partner to launch Aspiring Leaders principal prep program to bolster JCPS principal pipeline

Steve Jones

The Spalding University College of Education and Jefferson County Public Schools have announced a partnership on a new graduate academic program at Spalding that is designed specifically to prepare JCPS employees to become principals, helping bolster the principal pipeline in the school district.

The yearlong Aspiring Leaders Principal Certification Program will launch this summer with its first cohort of JCPS employees pursuing Spalding’s Master of Education in Instructional Leadership: Principal Preparation.

The 30-credit-hour program is unique in that master’s curriculum has been tailored directly for the JCPS system and will be presented through the lens of JCPS’ three institutional pillars – a Backpack of Success Skills, Racial Equity, and Climate and Culture. Current and former JCPS principals and administrators will serve as Spalding’s instructors in the program. The partnership was formally approved by the Jefferson County Board of Education.

“We are building a pipeline for the next generation of school leaders,” JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said. “We appreciate Spalding partnering with us to develop a degree program aimed at giving teachers the unique, practical knowledge and skills they need to become a top-flight principal at a JCPS school.”

APPLY NOW | Link for JCPS employees to submit Aspiring Leaders application information

COLLEGE OF EDUCATION OVERVIEW | All Spalding bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs 


The Aspiring Leaders program is open to JCPS employees with a Kentucky Teacher Certificate, at least three years of teaching experience and a bachelor’s or master’s degree with a 2.75 grade-point average. In addition to earning the master’s of education, completion of the program will lead to a Level I Kentucky Principal Certification and, depending on the individual’s previous education, either a Rank I or Rank II Kentucky Teacher Certification.

The Spalding program will be offered to JCPS employees at a tuition rate of $395 per credit hour, substantially lower than most other academic programs at the university. Spalding will work with JCPS on reviewing the applicant pool to select a cohort of the most promising aspiring principals.

The cohort model is designed to promote a learning environment in which diverse colleagues inspire and support each other while developing lasting professional relationships.

“As an urban education institution, Spalding is strongly committed to supporting Louisville’s diverse public school system,” Spalding President Tori Murden McClure said. “Through the Aspiring Leaders program, we are taking the next step in our support of JCPS by aligning our principal-preparation courses to be in lockstep with the values of the school district. We understand the unique strengths and unique challenges of Jefferson County schools, and we want to work with the district in ensuring that every school has a high-quality leader.”

Spalding Assistant Professor Dr. Glenn Baete, who retired last year as a JCPS assistant superintendent after previously serving as principal of Doss High School, will serve as program director for Aspiring Leaders.

Other instructors in the program include Dunn Elementary School Principal Dr. Tracy Barber and retired JCPS Assistant Superintendent Kirk Lattimore, who was a longtime principal at Crosby Middle School and recently served as acting principal at Manual High School. Many other JCPS leaders will come to Spalding to construct course experiences and give guest lectures on topics such as human resources, budgeting and curriculum instruction.

“You have individuals (teaching in the program) who have very strong backgrounds in a large, urban school district,” Baete said. “They are uniquely qualified from their personal experience to help these aspiring leaders develop the skills and understanding they need to succeed in JCPS schools. We will ensure that the classroom activities, the clinical experiences really align to the three pillars of JCPS. You’ll be experiencing JCPS first-hand in this program, and you’re going to see the people in Jefferson County who on a day-to-day basis help principals do their work.”

The Aspiring Leaders program consists of face-to-face, online and hybrid classes. (SEE A DETAILED PROGRAM CALENDAR HERE.) After meeting four times in July, students will attend one Wednesday evening class per week from August to April, one or two Saturday sessions per month from November to April, and four other weekday sessions during the 2020-21 academic year. (JCPS will provide substitute teachers to cover participants on the latter four days.)

Applications are being accepted through March 27 through the JCPS employee online hub or at this link. An informational session will take place 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 12 in the Stewart Auditorium of JCPS’ Van Hoose Education Center.  For more information, contact Dr. Baete at [email protected] .

College of Education Chair Dr. Chris Walsh said the Aspiring Leaders program is an example of Spalding answering a call from the state’s Education Professional Standards Board that requires colleges of education to partner more closely with their local school districts “to create programs and experiences that meet the needs of the times.”

“Our Aspiring Leaders’ partnership with JCPS is more than a graduate program for school leaders; it’s a rich opportunity for growth and personal transformation,” Spalding Dean of Graduate Education Dr. Kurt Jefferson said. “I’m thrilled that Spalding will be at the heart of these leaders’ intellectual and professional development in this exciting new master’s degree program.”