Oct 18, 2022
Yearlong fellowship trains next generation of leaders to improve outcomes for students with disabilities

(BATON ROUGE, LA) - The Louisiana Department of Education is expanding its efforts to support students with disabilities. Seventeen special education leaders across the state have been selected to participate in the Department’s third cohort of the SPED Fellow Academy. The first two cohorts of this year-long, comprehensive development program included 15 participants each year. The program is also growing to include a 21 member Aspiring SPED Fellows Academy to support up-and-coming school and system professionals.

“Building capacity within all levels of the education workforce is important,” said State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley. “This is an investment to develop the next generation of teachers and leaders for our students with exceptionalities.”

The SPED Fellow Academy was developed for novice special education leaders across the state. It provides in-person training and a community of practice the next generation of leaders need to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. Participants will also receive mentoring and coaching from experienced special education professionals with extensive leadership experience and track records of improving outcomes for students with disabilities.

The third cohort launched this fall and will run through June 2023. Fellows will participate in ten full-day training sessions and five supplemental online collaboration sessions. The following special education leaders have been selected for the SPED Fellow Academy’s third cohort.

  • Shauntel J. Butler | Esperanza Charter School
  • Margaret Cage | Assumption Parish Schools
  • Danielle Copeland | Jackson Parish Schools
  • Carol Dupree | New Orleans Charter Science & Mathematics High
  • Jason Dupuy | St. Tammany Parish Public Schools
  • Marianne Fieber | Raphael Academy
  • Trent Heard | West Carroll Parish Schools
  • Rebecca Johnson | West Feliciana Parish Schools
  • Laney Kirk | Lafourche Parish Schools
  • Tracy Latulas | Iberia Parish Schools
  • Hillary Hall Robinson | Collegiate Academies
  • Temeka Seamster | Caddo Parish Schools
  • Tracey Frias Simpson | Caddo Parish Schools
  • Melanie Ulmer | Delta Charter
  • Leah Valdez | St. Helena Parish Schools
  • Raecheal Vizier | Lafourche Parish Schools
  • Angela Westerburg | Ouachita Parish Schools

In an effort to expand the program, a new professional development strand is being offered this year to twenty-one special education coordinators and other district special education aspiring leaders. This Aspiring SPED Fellows Academy will offer a series of professional development sessions to support and grow up-and-coming talent in the field.

The SPED Fellow Academy is one of the ways the Department is developing teachers and leaders who serve Louisiana’s diverse learners. Key work to support the development of special education leaders and educators includes:

  • Guidance for Leading Inclusive Special Education Programs: Documents and webinars addressing most pressing needs from the field
  • Para to Teacher Certification: Opportunities for paraprofessionals to enroll in courses to earn a teaching certificate
  • Staffing and Scheduling Support: Training modules with guidance on scheduling to address unfinished learning
  • Technical Assistance: Ongoing training and support to school systems

The SPED Fellow Academy was designed to build upon the state's existing and successful fellowship programs for educators and administrators, such as the Principal Leader Fellowship Program and the Content Leader pathway.