In 2016, Lexington County School District One in South Carolina was on the verge of a school leader shortage. It was expected that the district would need to hire up to 20 new principals over the next five years due to expected promotions and retirements as well as demographic shifts. The district was growing by about 500 students per year. In just his first few months on the job, newly appointed district superintendent Dr. Gregory Little had to hire several new school leaders. “I realized that if we as a district were going to continue to move our work forward, we needed a pipeline of people who can step into critical roles and continue the work,” Dr. Little said. “Otherwise, when people turn over, would all of our work be lost? Would the success of our work hinge upon just a few critical people, or would we have people ready to step in and continue that role?”

As part of a commitment to leadership development, the district decided to launch its first Aspiring Principals Academy. With support from the NYC Leadership Academy, Lexington District One created a year-long program that offers participants intensive classroom instruction and an in-school residency with hands-on school leader experience and guidance from a mentor principal. Read the full story of how they did it, and the impact that program is already having across the district.