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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU program trains teachers for leadership positions

Area school districts are partnering with New Mexico State University to advance teachers' education.

Public school teachers are receiving the opportunity to become school leaders through a collaborative project between NMSU, the Las Cruces Public School District and the Gadsden Independent School District.

The Center for Border and Indigenous Educational Leadership (CeBIEL) designed the Preparing Leaders Together (PLT) program to better prepare educational leaders to serve the diverse student populations in New Mexico. The program is designed for public school teachers who would like to become administrators in their school districts, leading toward administrative licensure in the state.

"The Preparing Leaders Together program gives opportunities to teachers looking to ascend by creating a concrete pathway to the administration," said Yvonne Lozano, associate superintendent for education at GISD.

Students in the program are known as fellows and there are 17 participating in PLT. Not all of the fellows are teachers; there also are math process trainers, coaches and a band director.

The two school districts have supported the teachers' decisions to become administrators by paying for all the costs associated with the master's program.

"We know that if districts do not invest in their people we are not going to get the leaders we need for our schools," said Maria Luisa Gonzalez, NMSU Regents professor and executive director of the CeBIEL program.

Gonzalez said school leaders need to be just as prepared as teachers in order to help support classroom instruction and know how to address any problems that may arise. That's why the coursework in PLT is specific to the district the teacher is from and covers, among others, the areas of leadership, school finance, special education, poverty and school and border law.

"PLT is preparing us to be leaders in a community we are already working in, which is different from other standard programs," said Tori Gilpin, a PLT fellow and a math process trainer at Desert Trail Elementary School in GISD.

Each fellow is part of an intensive process of working with school administrators. For example, they shadow and intern with administrators at the high school, middle school and elementary school levels.

"Shadowing administrators is a benefit to us. I've learned that they must be prepared for anything," said Guillermo Carmona, a PLT fellow and a third-grade teacher at Sunrise Elementary School in LCPS.

PLT fellows are selected through a rigorous application and interview process. The program takes two years to complete. Their coursework and field experiences are rigorous and demanding.

"I'm looking forward to what else the program has to offer. So far, everything has been wonderful," Gilpin said.

The CeBIEL program is dedicated to improving education for New Mexico's diverse student population through responsive and professional development of educational leaders. For more information on the CeBIEL and PLT programs, contact Maria Luisa Gonzalez at (575) 646-4190.