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Tennessee Department of Education says Over 260 Participants in Second Cohorts of Aspiring Assistant Principals Network, Diverse Leaders Network

Tennessee Department of EducationNashville, TN – The Tennessee Department of Education has announced the?second?cohorts of both the Aspiring Assistant Principal Network (AAPN) and the Diverse Leaders Network (DLN), which provide pathways for Tennessee’s educators to become licensed school administrators and obtain master’s degrees and credentials at a partnering higher education institution, at no cost beyond that of the required licensure assessment.

Programs Build Leadership Pipeline Through No-Cost Credentials and Degrees
Programs Build Leadership Pipeline Through No-Cost Credentials and Degrees

Funding has been awarded to Austin Peay State University (APSU) and Tennessee State University (TSU) to facilitate programming for participating Tennessee educators, and the second cohorts of each network combined will put leadership credentials in the hands of more than 260 prospective candidates.  

In alignment with the department’s Best for All strategic plan, which sets a vision for Tennessee to be the top state to become and remain a teacher and leader, both the AAPN and DLN seek to increase access to and success in the education leadership profession by removing financial barriers and leveraging existing talent to help fill vacancies in school leadership. 

From 2020-2024, over the course of four cohorts from each university, the department has committed over $4.5 million?in grant?funding, primarily from federal funding sources,?to allow?more than 700 highly qualified aspiring assistant principals?to earn their licensure for free and contribute valuable capacity and expertise to Tennessee school districts.??? 

“By providing no-cost pathways to leadership credentials and degrees, we are removing obstacles to educational leadership opportunities in our state and empowering educators who want to pursue a professional pathway to further develop themselves and better serve students,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “These programs are part of the Tennessee Department of Education’s commitment to growing future leaders in education, and we are thrilled to see the numbers of participants in these cohorts growing each year.” 

AAPN and DLN participants are paired with a mentor principal from their district to receive on-the-job training that complements their academic coursework, which they complete remotely under the supervision of a university mentor.  

Upon completion of the AAPN program, current Tennessee educators will earn instructional leader licensure that allows them to serve as assistant principals. Every district in the state is eligible to nominate participants to be part of the AAPN, and selected applicants complete all coursework requirements completely free of charge.  



DLN participants?can?earn?a master’s degree in education?along with instructional leader licensure, allowing them to serve?as assistant principals in a Tennessee public school. DLN cohorts also participate in professional development workshops, facilitated by the department.? Participant applications for cohort 2?of the DLN?nearly tripled from cohort 1, with 96 new participants in cohort 2 of the DLN.? 

“Austin Peay State University is thankful for TDOE’s support of our college initiatives,” said Dr. Laura Barnett, Assistant Professor, Austin Peay State University College of Education. “We are proud to continue to serve aspiring assistant principals across Tennessee.”

“As part of the AAPN project, we have implemented a continuous improvement model with new leaders to revise our courses based on input from principal mentors, field-based coaches, instructors, and students so that our graduates are prepared to meet the needs of their students, teachers, and communities.?We are particularly appreciative our Diverse Leaders Network students, as they help fulfill our college-wide initiative to increase the diversity of K12 teachers and leaders,”  Dr. Barnett stated.

“Giving our local educators the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in educational leadership so they can strive to become leaders within our school communities is essential,” said Dr. Danny Weeks, Director of Schools, Dickson County Schools. “Educators work tirelessly to meet the needs of their students and having them be able to pursue a leadership degree without the financial stress is invaluable.”  

“At Tennessee State University, we are pleased to work with school districts and the Tennessee Department of Education to help grow and develop new educational leaders for our state,” said Dr. Jerri Haynes, Dean of the College of Education, Tennessee State University. 



“Both of these programs help prepare and nurture aspiring district leaders to have an even greater impact on improving the lives of students and teachers by providing an affordable and accessible master of education in instructional leadership.” Sr. Haynes stated.

Applications for the third cohort of the Aspiring Assistant Principals Network and Diverse Leaders Network will open in spring of 2022.?? 


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