Aspiring Ed Leaders Program

Be the Change. Lead Now.

Master's in Educational Leadership with Urban School Specialization 

The Aspiring Ed Leaders Program is a rigorous competency and experiential-based program designed to prepare principal leaders for the challenging environment of complex schools. Our five-year development program for aspiring school leaders is offered in partnership with SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education & Human Development. This unique partnership provides the traditional coursework associated with a master’s degree, a robust in-school residency that focuses on leadership in action and continuous, in-depth training and coaching.

The initial two-years include a rigorous focus on instructional and organizational leadership and the development of effective teachers, leading to a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership with Urban School Specialization. Extensive assessment, feedback, and coaching is provided during the Residency Year, with continued support in subsequent years as our Aspiring Ed Leaders assume leadership rol­­es at their schools and begin to use practices and ideas they have learned throughout the course of the program. Our graduates are prepared to make an immediate impact toward narrowing the achievement gap by leading change in their schools, with a focus on building a culture of high performance for both the students and adults.


Key Program Components

  • A highly selective and experiential process for admissions to ensure that participants exhibit values needed for this challenging work;
  • A four-week summer intensive, including two-day internship to launch graduate coursework;
  • A year-long facilitated and heavily assessed “residency” experience, where the candidate is in a leadership role at an urban school with responsibility for developing teachers and building key components of a high achieving culture;
  • “On-the-job” training where candidates can apply their skills in a safe environment and receive feedback;
  • A competency framework that defines the values and skills required for successful transformational leaders;
  • Continuous support, assessment and development over a five year period;
  • Access to a network of highly informed and influential individuals from North Texas and across the nation focused on leading transformational change in education; and,
  • Teaching Trust raises 80% of the cost to participate.

Program Structure

The program is divided into three parts:

  • Competency-based classroom instruction
  • Campus-based residency experience
  • School leadership support and evaluation

The 36 credit-hour degree program is completed in two years, including summer sessions, culminating in a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership with Urban School Specialization from Southern Methodist University. The first year is classroom instruction using case studies, teamwork, and campus based instructional projects. The coursework is organized into four 7-week modules. The second year is a campus-based residency (12 credit hours) where candidates are paired with Leadership Development Coaches. Candidates gain “on-the-job” training while applying their skills and receiving candid and continuous feedback. Post graduation, in years 3-5, on-going professional development, evaluation and support are provided. 

Topics of study and clinical exploration include:

  • Developing and sustaining trust with diverse constituents
  • Establishing and managing a culture of achievement
  • Instructional leadership (planning, data practices, and observation; feedback and professional development)
  • Setting and monitoring goals
  • Planning and managing change


Teaching Trust and SMU both offer extensive financial support for the Aspiring Ed Leaders Program. Because of these contributions, the total cost to a participant is $10,000. Additional financial aid may be available . Teach for America alumni can apply their AmeriCorps education grants towards the cost of enrollment.


Faculty is drawn from Teaching Trust, professors in SMU's Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development and the Cox School of Business. National experts and visiting practitioners will also contribute to the program.

Application Requirements

  • At least 2 years of teaching experience.
  • Commitment to serving in a school leadership role for at least 5 years.
  • Employment with the following partners*: Dallas ISD, Irving ISD, Uplift Education, Grand Prairie ISD, or KIPP DFW.

*Applicants not employed by a partner or who live outside ­­­­­­­the state of Texas are still encouraged to apply. We may be able to assist you in finding a position.

Successful Candidates

Aspiring Ed Leaders demonstrate the following mindsets and skill sets:
  • Commitment to Urban Leadership
  • Growth Mindset
  • Strong Instructional Practice
  • Results Orientation
  • Ability to Influence & Inspire
  • Resilience & Courage
  • High Expectations for All Students


To learn more, please contact Ana Luz Hernández at (915) 471-9999 or  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .