Louisiana Early Leaders Academy (LELA)

LELA Initiative

The Louisiana Early Leaders Academy 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. They are selected were required to lead a highly-rated early learning center, be fluent in the state's classroom observation tools, and articulate their vision for growth through the program.

The Academy, currently in its pilot year, is structured to support the implementation of new learning into practice, including:

  • 10+ days of in-person training, including exclusive opportunities to meet national and state leaders in early childhood education;

  • Job-embedded coaching to support areas of need; and

  • Virtual communities of practice to enhance instructional leadership and quality in early learning programs. 

LELA 2019 Fellows

LELA is designed to meet fellows’ needs to grow and improve, and provide supports to implement change.

  • 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.

  • Coaching Support: Coaching visits are designed to identify specific goals for building instructional leadership skills, and reinforce the training session content. 
  • In-person Training: 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 the Academy, fellows learn approaches to managing time, and receive coaching support to implement new practices.

At a culminating event, fellows present how they applied knowledge gained through the Academy to implement change. 

The Academy 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  to generous funding of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and a private family foundation.

“The Academy 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.