Aspiring Ed-Leaders Program

Master's in Educational Leadership with Urban School Specialization at

SMU's Simmons School of Education & Human Development

The Aspiring Ed-Leaders Program is designed to prepare participants to be transformational leaders in urban schools. Aspiring Ed-Leaders will enhance mindsets and develop skillsets through careful study of the practices of effective urban school leaders and structured leadership experiences, both in-class and on-the-job, combined with in-depth development from Teaching Trust school leadership professionals. Participants who successfully complete the program earn the M.Ed. in Educational Leadership with Urban School Specialization through a unique partnership between Teaching Trust and SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

The two-year program includes a rigorous, year-long study focused on instructional and organizational leadership and the development of effective teachers, followed by a residency year in a Title 1 school in a partner district, working alongside a mentor principal while serving as a member of the school’s leadership team. Graduates are prepared to make an immediate impact toward closing 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 components of this program, funded by Teaching Trust, include:

  • Targeted recruiting for participants who exhibit the values (belief-based actions) needed for this challenging work, featuring a highly selective and experiential process for admissions;
  • A year-long facilitated and heavily assessed “residency” experience during the second year of the program 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;
  • A competency framework that defines the practices that characterize values and skills required for transformational leaders (see Figure 5: Teaching Trust Competency Model) used for continuous assessment and development processes; and
  • A five-year commitment by participants to their districts and Teaching Trust, which is fundraising for ~80% of the cost of their Master’s degree. Post graduation, the participants commit to continued development with Teaching Trust staff accompanied by extensive follow-up including long-term evaluation of results.

Aspiring-Ed-LeadersSuccessful Candidates

Successful candidates must demonstrate the following mindsets and skillsets:

  • Commitment to Urban Leadership
  • Growth Mindset
  • Strong Instructional Practice
  • Results Orientation
  • Ability to Influence & Inspire
  • Resilience & Courage
  • High Expectations for All Students


Program Structure

This 45-hour degree program is designed to be completed in 2 years including summer sessions, which culminates in an M.Ed in Educational Leadership from Southern Methodist University. The first year is classroom instruction that is delivered using case studies and group work with cohorts. The coursework is organized into four 7-week modules. The second year is a campus based residency (12 credit hours) where candidates will be paired with a master principal or clinical faculty member. Candidates will gain “on the job” training where they can apply their skills in a safe environment and receive candid feedback. On-going evaluation and support are provided in years 3-5. Click Here for Course Listing pdf

Topics of study and clinical exploration include:

•Instructional leadership (planning, data practices, observation/feedback, and professional development)
•Constructing and managing a culture of achievement
•Developing and sustaining trust with diverse constituents
•Introducing and managing change
•High performance systems (strategic planning, project, and performance management)
•Impacting local and professional policy


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. Many participants may be eligible for additional, third-party scholarships, or financial aid. Teach for America alumni can apply their AmeriCorps education grants towards the cost of enrollment.



Faculty is drawn from 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

•Have at least 2 years of teaching experience.
•Meet SMU’s eligibility requirements for entrance into the M.Ed. Program and Teaching Trust Selection Requirements.
•To enroll in this program, you should be employed with the following districts *: Dallas ISD, Irving ISD, Uplift Education, Lancaster ISD, DeSoto ISD, Grand Prairie ISD, or KIPP DFW.
*Applicants who come from outside of our partner districts or the state of Texas are still encouraged to apply. We may be able to assist you in finding a position with one of our partner districts.


For more information and application instructions, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

214-206-3849 x 318