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Gwinnett County Public Schools partners with UNG on certificate program

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Gwinnett County Public Schools System approved UNG as its newest partner for Educational Leadership Certificates in January 2019. Dr. Charles Burrage, center, assistant dean of the College of Education, Kendra Washington-Bass, director of leadership development for Gwinnett County Public Schools, left, and Dr. Catherine Rosa, assistant professor in the Educational Leadership program in the College of Education, worked on the partnership.

The University of North Georgia's (UNG) College of Education earned the "seal of approval" from Gwinnett County schools for its Educational Leadership Certification Program.

The seal cemented when Gwinnett County Public Schools System approved UNG as its newest partner for Educational Leadership Certificates in January 2019. UNG is now one of six Georgia colleges and universities partnering with Gwinnett, said Dr. Charles Burrage, assistant dean of the College of Education.

"We had to go through a period of 'vetting' and program evaluation with Gwinnett County to get to this point," said Burrage, coordinator of graduate programs and professor of kinesiology at UNG. "It's a very great honor."

The partnership allows teachers and newly appointed leaders in Gwinnett County to earn an Educational Leadership Certificate from UNG's Gainesville and Cumming campuses, which are located in counties that border Gwinnett and are therefore logistically convenient for Gwinnett teachers.

Kendra Washington-Bass, director of leadership development for Gwinnett County Public Schools, said aspiring principals and assistant principals must receive Tier I or Tier II Education Leadership Certificates through their partner schools. Tier I is designed for educators who have a master's degree and are preparing for entry-level leadership positions such as an assistant principal in public schools. Tier II prepares assistant principals to transition into principal roles.

"For us, it means our educators have the option to choose North Georgia as a provider of certification," she said, explaining they have up to three years to earn an Educational Leadership Certificate.

Dr. Catherine Rosa, assistant professor in the Educational Leadership program in the College of Education, said the process to partner was no easy task. Officials from both institutions met to conduct a Quality Measures™ review, which is a self-assessment program supported by the Wallace Foundation. The purpose is to assess the program using the help of critical friends such as Gwinnett County Public Schools. 

The comprehensive process looks at UNG's work through the lens of the national standards, Professional Standards for Educational Leaders. Washington-Bass said it allowed UNG to align its program with the same expectations Gwinnett County requires.

"It was almost like going through an accreditation review," Rosa said.

After the process, both institutions developed and agreed to an improvement plan for the Educational Leadership Certification Program.

"It will keep us in motion to ensure we don't get complacent," said Rosa, assistant professor of teacher education at UNG. "This way we are consistently improving."

Since Gwinnett County is a leader in the state and nation in developing effective school leaders, it will make UNG's program more desirable, Rosa said.

"UNG is going to help build and improve an assistant principal and principal pipeline for Gwinnett County," Rosa said, explaining it will help minimize the possible future shortage of school leaders.

For Gwinnett County, teachers and aspiring leaders will be able to utilize UNG's resources.

"On one hand, UNG has expertise in the research realm of leadership and we can tap into that," Bass said. "On the other hand, we can tell them what it looks like from the ground level in schools."

For more information on the Educational Leadership Certification Program, contact Rosa at catherine.rosa@ung.edu.

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