Aspiring Principals Program (National)

Aspiring Principals Program (National)

The Aspiring Principals Program (APP) prepares exceptional leaders to transform our nation’s most challenging schools. Our nationally recognized leadership development model equips future principals with the skills and experience to create thriving schools that advance educational outcomes for all students.

At NYCLA, we understand that adults – like students – learn best when engaged in hands-on, authentic learning experiences. Our approach prepares participants for the realities of the principalship through direct engagement in the day-to-day challenges school leaders face. Through simulations and job-embedded learning opportunities, participants gain exposure to real-world leadership issues, experiment with different leadership decisions and approaches, and practice responding to complex school leadership challenges in real time. 

In response to the growing need for high quality school leaders in districts across the country and with support from American Express and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, NYCLA is launching an innovative new national Aspiring Principals Program based on our proven model. We are seeking district partners who recognize the critical role of effective leadership in transforming struggling schools, view talent development as a top priority, and are committed to developing leaders focused on equity and social justice.    

By sending your district’s aspiring leaders through our national APP, you will benefit from a cadre of leaders ready to transform schools and improve student outcomes, and develop a network of colleagues across the country who will share new ideas as well as promising educational practices. We invite district leaders to identify and enroll aspiring leaders for this eleven-month program.

The NYC Leadership Academy (NYCLA) was founded in 2003 to meet the growing demand for high quality Principals in New York City public schools. Our flagship New York City Aspiring Principals Program has trained 538 school leaders who have proven to reverse the declines in ELA and math achievement in low-performing schools. Since 2008, our Aspiring Principals Program has been adapted by over 20 school districts, nonprofits, and universities across the country. 


We believe the best way to learn to be a school leader is to live it; therefore, the best learning experiences for aspiring principals are simulated and real leadership challenges. We are experts in adult learning: our staff is comprised of practitioners who draw upon their own leadership experience to develop leaders ready to meet the increasingly complex demands of the principalship today while also providing an equitable school experience for all students. 

NYCLA's National APP has two phases that foster leadership growth: 

    1. Summer Intensive

      A multi-week training that simulates the real-world challenges of the principalship through interactive learning experiences.

    2. School-Based Practicum & Blended Learning Program

      While in their district schools, participants complete a ten-month, school-based practicum that provides aspiring principals the opportunity to practice the work of the principal, becoming responsible for leading change during this year and receiving feedback on their work. They simultaneously work through a blended learning program that includes online coursework, in-person and virtual sessions, and on-site coaching.

      Aspiring principals continue to learn from and network with their peers from the summer intensive through the blended learning program, forging a collaborative cohort support system that will continue to serve them once they have completed the program.

The combination of the intensive summer simulation and the practicum experience enables participants to engage in the authentic work of school leadership and reflect on their experiences prior to assuming the role of principal. To ensure that participants emerge conversant in and knowledgeable about the structures, systems, and data they will use in their day-to-day work, both the summer intensive and the practicum curriculum are designed to address the needs and priorities of participating districts.


Assistant principals and teacher leaders identified by the district as high-potential leaders and who possess state administrator certification & teacher certification.

Enrollment is currently closed. Please check back in early 2017.