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Laura Faith Kebede

New fellowships will help Indianapolis school leaders sharpen their skills

A new partnership between The Mind Trust and the Relay Graduate School of Education would give up to 36 Indianapolis school leaders a chance to hone their leadership skills over the next three years.

“You can’t have a great school without a really high-quality school leader,” said Brandon Brown, The Mind Trust’s senior vice president of education innovation. “The partnership with Relay is meant to try to start a new local pipeline to support existing leaders so that we can work to support a larger number of really high-quality school leaders that will eventually support the growth of high-quality schools.”

Relay is a national nonprofit school that offers two fellowships for principals. Participants already include 400 people from 24 states. The fellowships are a one-year program that span a couple weeks in the summer and four weekend seminars where principals focus on a few key areas, including observation and feedback, instruction using data, creating positive school culture and teacher and staff training.

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The Mind Trust will sponsor 12 principals per year for three years beginning next summer. Brown said he and his colleagues liked the Relay fellowships because they were focused on learning by doing, not just on education theory.

“It’s almost entirely practice,” Brown said.

The seminars would take place at Relay’s New York City campus, and in addition to the tuition for the fellowship, The Mind Trust will also work with schools to set a travel cost and take care of reimbursements.

While applications will be open to full-time principals, assistant principals, department leaders or teacher leaders within local school systems, priority will be given to leaders that are launching new schools or programs, such as charter schools or partnerships for innovation schools within Indianapolis Public Schools. Brown said IPS was on board and excited about the partnership.

Applications to the program are due by Jan. 31, and final decisions will be announced by the end of February.

“We’ve actually visited the program twice now and have just been incredibly impressed,” he said. “(There’s) a long waiting list, so the demand across the country for the program has just been growing year over year.”