Louisiana Early Leaders Academy (LELA)

LELA Initiative

Now, more than ever, early learning leaders need support to bring forth an ambitious vision for Louisiana’s youngest. As center directors consider what the future may hold, the Louisiana Early Leaders Academy offers the opportunity to build leadership skills and a network of peers who support each other for their success and most importantly, ambitious goals for young children.

The Louisiana Early Leaders Academy (LELA) is a 10-month, executive-level program for directors of highly rated, publicly funded early learning centers that will help expand access to quality early childhood care and education by strengthening leaders in the field. Participating educators, known as fellows, are selected through a competitive application process for directors aiming for excellence in their daily leadership of their early learning centers.

LELA is designed to address the new challenges of a post-pandemic world with the constant focus of Louisiana’s early leaders: preparing children for success in kindergarten and beyond. The virtual, live program is developed to help build directors into instructional leaders of their centers.

Connect • Learn • Lead

The Leaders Academy is structured to provide a support the implementation of new learning into practice, including:

  • Individualized Focus: At the beginning of the fellowship program, each participant takes a needs assessment and gathers teacher satisfaction data from their staff. This information provides baseline data for each fellows to best inform training content, and provide metrics to evaluate growth over the course of the program.
  • Bimonthly online training sessions: Live learning session are led by experts in the early learning field, on key topics related to instructional leadership. Fellows will learn about managing systems changes, building strong teams, and improving program operations, among other content areas. One key area of focus is time management. In order to support an ambitious vision for children and families, leaders must prioritize practices that build the quality of teacher-child interactions in their centers. Through LELA, fellows learn approaches to managing time, and receive coaching support to implement new practices.
  • A personal coach: Monthly, one-on-one coaching sessions are designed to identify specific goals for building instructional leadership skills, and reinforce the training session content. 
  • A community of peers: In addition the directors from across the state and connection with Year One fellows, each leader will have a “Home Team.” An intimate peer group that supports each other through monthly meetings.
  • Exclusive opportunities to learn from national and state leaders in early childhood education.

There are many benefits of participation, and you can hear from the leaders firsthand in this video.

cohort 5

(LELA year five fellows)

LELA was developed by the Department's early childhood education staff, who live-pitched the concept at the Harvard Zaentz Innovation Challenge in June 2018. The team placed in the national competition and won $10,000. Comprehensive funding for the first two years of the pilot has been made possible due to the generous funding of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and a private family foundation.

Please apply by completing the LELA Year 6 Application. You can learn more by reviewing the application guide or by emailing earlychildhood@la.gov for more information.

“LELA has changed my life. I now have the tools to continue doing this work effectively for many years to come.” Michelle Hubbard, LELA fellow, Cohort 1.