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Governor’s Academy for School Leadership (GASL)

“Principals are responsible for hiring and retaining great teachers, being the instructional leaders of their schools, creating positive learning environments and managing complex operations within their buildings. Successful organizations have great leaders at the top, and one of the most important things we can do to transform our schools is to have each one led by a great principal. Tennessee has many great principals already, and we want even more.”                    --Governor Haslam, 2013

The Governor’s Academy for School Leadership is a unique partnership between the Tennessee Governor's Office, Department of Education, Vanderbilt University's Peabody College, and local school districts. It consists of a cohort of 20-25 assistant principals from across Tennessee who participate in a one-year leadership development experience aimed at increasing school leadership capacity and supporting individual growth toward becoming a highly effective building principal. The program is anchored in practice-based mentorship, in-depth feedback cycles, and tailored training sessions. The mission of the program is to prepare a cohort of transformational school leaders who will improve school effectiveness/performance and unlock educational opportunities for all students.


  • There is a rigorous selection process for fellows and mentors, who must be nominated by their director of schools for consideration to be invited to apply.
  • The one-year fellowship includes a comprehensive support system and curriculum that has been designed in partnership with Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. Fellows will be expected to participate in the following development activities:
    • Training sessions one weekend per month at Vanderbilt University
    • Practice-based internship three days per month at mentor’s school
    • Individual coaching sessions approximately once every other month
    • Week-long (Monday-Friday) summer institute at Vanderbilt University
  • Upon completion of the program, fellows will be expected to pursue placement as a school principal within their district and/or region by making application and completing necessary district processes to be considered for principal roles.


  • Develop transformational leadership skills.
  • Advance your educator license.
  • Receive in-depth support and feedback through dual-mentoring approach.
  • Earn certificate of completion from Vanderbilt University.
  • Program is funded by the state of Tennessee, including a stipend for each fellow.

District Responsibilities

  • Provide release time three days per month for participating assistant principals.
  • Provide a highly effective principal mentor.


Dr. Hank Staggs, Program Director
(615) 517-1480