TSU Receives Funding to Train 49 Aspiring Assistant Principals in Middle Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s College of Education has received a $300,000 grant to train 49 aspiring assistant principals in Middle Tennessee school districts.

Dr. Jerri Haynes, Dean of the College of Education, says the college has developed a special program of study to train the aspiring school leaders. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The funding from the Tennessee Department Education will be used to conduct a one-year, master’s degree-level training for cohorts from the region, including four of the state’s largest school systems – Metro Nashville Public Schools, Rutherford County Schools, Sumner County Schools and Clarksville-Montgomery County School System.

“This is an opportunity that Tennessee State University is certainly proud to receive,” said Dr. Jerri Haynes, dean of the College of Education. “It is a further recognition of the quality of our programs. It helps to increase our enrollment and helps fill the void or shortage of assistant principals, especially minorities.”

According to Haynes, participants in the program are teachers in their various systems who show leadership potential and have been selected by their superintendents or principals to take part in the training. All courses in the program, which is from June 2020 to June 2021, will be offered online. When completed, participants will receive professional licensure as educational leaders.

“We have developed a special program of study for this project,” Haynes said. “We are going to provide them the theory and application, as well as internships and on-the-job training. They will receive university mentors, and we will work to identify mentors at their schools where they work.”

Dr. Eleni Elder, left, Professor of Educational Leadership, holds discussion with graduate students in her school finance class. The course is part of the curriculum for the aspiring assistant principal training program. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Dr. Kirmanj Gundi is the interim chair of the COE’s Department of Educational Leadership. His department will be primarily responsible for conducting the training, which he called a “remarkable opportunity.”

“When we became aware of the grant through Dr. Haynes, we had less than 10 business days to come up with a winning proposal,” Gundi said. “We were successful, thanks to our leadership and a remarkable team.  Getting this grant is another opportunity for TSU to go out there and put its name out. We have an outstanding state-approved licensure program, we have great faculty.”

Current TSU students in the educational leadership program talked about the strength of the curriculum and how beneficial it would be in developing the leadership skills of the aspiring assistant principals.

“This program helps build character because it offers a lot of field experiences where we go and directly talk to people and observe what they are doing,” said Pragati Natraj, a first-year graduate student from India majoring in instructional leadership. “We have practical experience, and gaining that knowledge and seeing what leaders are already doing in the field help us reflect on what we should do.”

Bridney Jones, who’s also pursuing her master’s degree in educational leadership, agreed.

“I believe this course will benefit the new cohorts by giving them strong hands-on and practical experience they will need as leaders,” said Jones, of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Dr. Terrance McNeil, assistant professor of educational administration and coordinator of the training program, said the partnership with the state gives TSU a great opportunity to “take an active role” in training principals.

“We at TSU believe that we have a great program that can prepare principals in a very unique manner, given our history of educator preparation,” McNeil said. “We already do a great job with educators and all-around teachers, but when you start talking about principals, you are talking about the ability to create leadership and policies that can be implemented for the betterment of the students.”

TSU’s College of Education, which has been recognized as the highest producer of teachers among HBCUs in the nation, has had a long relationship with the Tennessee Department of Education for many years. In October, the college received more than a half million dollars from the department’s Title III program to develop a Global Education Student Support Services Lab to increase student learning across the curriculum.

In 2017, TSU was one of only four applicants out of 18 to receive the Tennessee Innovation in Preparation grant, or TIP. The grants are designed to support an increase in the development of a diverse educator workforce, an increase in the production of educators in high-demand licensure areas, and promote collaboration to improve educator preparation in literacy.

For the assistant principals’ training program, Dean Haynes congratulated the following committee members for their hard work in coming out with a successful proposal that made the grant possible: Dr. Heraldo Richards, associate dean; Dr. Trinetia Respress, assistant dean; Dr. Gundi, department chair; and faculty members: Dr. Carole De Casal, Dr. Eleni Coukos Elder, Dr. McNeil, and Dr. Darren Kennedy.

For more information on programs in the College of Education, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/coe/.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.