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North Central College a partner in $16 million grants awarded by U.S. Department of Education

Dec 14, 2017

North Central College is serving as a partner in two projects that received grants totaling more than $16 million from the U.S. Department of Education. The projects are designed to enhance the leadership skills of school administrators and principals and supporting structures for an increase in student achievement.

“Just as every child deserves a highly qualified teacher, schools need skilled administrators providing leadership for excellent teaching and learning opportunities,” said Bruce Spitzer, chairperson of North Central College’s Department of Education and professor of education.

“These grants will have a positive impact on the work of teachers and other education professionals and ultimately the lives of children for many years to come. North Central College’s Department of Education is excited to be part of this important work,” said Spitzer.

A three-year, $12.5 million “Supporting Effective Educator Development” grant will support the “Together Everyone Achieves More Through Integrated Leadership” or TEAM Lead project, which engages principals and other school leaders in 101 public and private high-need schools in rural, suburban and urban areas across Illinois. TEAM Lead will implement leadership support systems and protocols to ensure effective teaching and learning.

The administrator of the grant, Illinois State University’s Center for the Study of Education Policy, invited North Central College’s Department of Education to serve as a partner along with three other higher education institutions, regional offices of education and others. The partnership—known as IL-PART (the Illinois Partnerships Advancing Rigorous Training)—began four years ago with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education School Leadership Program. The grants awarded this fall will continue the work of the partnership.

The U.S. Department of Education also awarded a five-year, $3.9 million "Education Innovation and Research" award to the DuPage Regional Office of Education in support of a project called Partners To Lead. The project is designed to “increase principal effectiveness in performance areas that lead to higher student achievement” in 56 public schools in rural, suburban and urban areas in Illinois. The project includes matching grants from the Steans Family Foundation and the Tracy Family Foundation.

“North Central College is honored to be part of these collaborative efforts with Illinois State University and the DuPage Regional Office of Education. These grants will provide robust professional development opportunities for our faculty and the staff from our district partners, as well as continue to enhance North Central’s principal preparation program,” said Heidi M. Matthews, dean of North Central’s School of Education and Health Sciences and professor of kinesiology.

The work North Central College has been doing with the Center for the Study of Education Policy “on the IL-PART grant has contributed greatly to the success of the College’s principal preparation program, as well as our enrollment in the program,” said Maureen Kincaid, professor of education at North Central College. Kincaid has been involved in the project since its inception four years ago.

North Central College’s principal preparation program—designed to prepare future school leaders—was among the first in Illinois to receive state approval in 2012.

Teachers who have gone through the College’s program and tenure of the IL-PART grant “have moved into leadership roles in our surrounding districts,” according to Kathy Black, assistant professor of education and coordinator of North Central’s master of arts in education.

The IL-PART grant made possible professional development opportunities for District 131 principals and assistant principals to improve instructional leadership, said Black. “The grant made it possible to hire substitute teachers so that principal internship candidates could complete a full-time immersion internship, working side by side with a principal all day for 70-85 days, allowing candidates to complete the requirements for Illinois licensure and performance standards,” Black said.

North Central College offers a master of arts in Education with concentrations in curriculum and instruction and educational leadership, and undergraduate degrees in elementary education and secondary education with an option to earn endorsements in English as a Second Language and special education. For more about North Central’s education department, visit