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25 Selected for Assistant Principal Accelerator Leadership Program

The following is a press release from North Carolina Public Schools

Twenty-five school leaders from across North Carolina have been selected for the inaugural cohort of the Assistant Principal (AP) Accelerator Leadership Program, a joint partnership among the North Carolina Principals and Assistant Principals’ Association (NCPAPA), the Belk Foundation, and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). The newly established AP Accelerator Program is a statewide leadership initiative funded by NCDPI and the Belk Foundation to fast track promising assistant principals for principal positions.

Superintendents nominated more than 60 individuals across the state for the program. After a rigorous selection process, the inaugural 25-member cohort was identified by NCPAPA. The selected cohort members represent a range of diversity and experience; nearly half the participants are persons of color, three of four are female, and participants have an average of three years of experience. Selected participants will enter the AP Accelerator Program and receive targeted leadership development and coaching from proven practitioners in the field. 

Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt underscored the importance and value of this principal-focused professional development opportunity.

“The AP Accelerator Program allows us to invest in school leaders and grow the pipeline of highly qualified and excellent principals in our state,” Truitt said. “As a teacher, I know that principals are the great multipliers of excellence, building and maintaining school morale, so we want to prioritize this group of professionals and ensure that they are supported and provided with professional development opportunities to continue growing.” 

Tabari Wallace, special advisor to the state superintendent on principal engagement, said he’s confident that the first cohort will finish the program with strong leadership skills.

“After a rigorous selection process, we are delighted to accelerate the competencies, effective practices and school turnaround ability of the 25 cohort participants,” Wallace said. “This approach will begin to address the perceived divide between highly qualified and highly effective leadership.” 

Working with NCPAPA and a team of highly effective and experienced mentors, the inaugural cohort will participate in a concentrated curriculum focused on research-based competencies and practices associated with successful school turnaround efforts.  They will also receive intensive coaching and group mentoring to accelerate their readiness to lead and transform high-needs schools. 

“We were extremely pleased with the caliber of the individuals nominated for the program.  With only 25 available seats, the selection process was very difficult,” said Dr. Shirley Prince, executive director of NCPAPA. 

NCPAPA will pilot and refine the curriculum with the inaugural cohort and add additional cohorts with a goal of adding 100 principal-ready candidates each year to the candidate pool for high-needs schools. 

Click here to view a list of the 2022-2023 Inaugural Cohort 

The program is funded by multiple partners, including the Belk Foundation, NC Department of Public Instruction, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the NC Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center, and the NC Alliance of School Leadership Development. 

The Belk Foundation is a Charlotte-based family foundation that supports public education by strengthening teachers and school leaders and ensuring that students are achieving on or above grade level by the third grade. Now in its fourth generation of family leadership, The Belk Foundation serves as the public expression of gratitude and commitment shown by the family that created the Belk department store organization. Since 2000, The Belk Foundation has invested more than $53 million in our community. More information is available at

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is an independent private foundation. Its mission is to serve and strengthen society by nurturing a diverse group of leaders in biomedical sciences to improve human health through education and powering discovery in frontiers of greatest need. 

The N.C. Science, Mathematics, Technology (SMT) Center focuses on improving education as a means of providing all students in North Carolina with the knowledge and skills to have successful careers, be good citizens, and advance the economy of the state. Serving as a broker, facilitator, and catalyst for innovation and change in education, the SMT Center celebrates educational excellence in North Carolina and beyond by supporting educators, engaging students, and advancing the growing importance of having a STEM-educated workforce. 

NCASLD’s mission is to grow leadership capacity among aspiring and practicing school leaders through programs that are aligned to the research-based NC and National performance evaluation standards and competencies for highly effective school leadership.  NCASLD works in concert with its affiliate organizations, NCASA, NCSSA, and NCPAPA to promote achievement of NC’s educational objectives with emphasis on the welfare and needs of all children.

In existence since 1976, the North Carolina Principals and Assistant Principals’ Association is the preeminent organization and state voice for principals, assistant principals and aspiring school leaders.   


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