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A woman is standing behind a small table. There is a PowerPoint presentation screen behind the woman. There is a man next to the woman. He is seated at the table and is listening to her speak.

The University of Kentucky College of Education’s Center for Next Generation Leadership has launched a new leadership academy with Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS).  

The Next Generation Executive Urban Leadership Academy is a FCPS “Grow Your Own” initiative, with nearly 20 employees selected by the district to expand their skills and opportunities during the pilot year. They will learn and network alongside their FCPS colleagues who have similar aspirations — whether it is becoming a more effective leader at their school or moving into an administrative role at the district office. Some will also pursue superintendent certification. 

The Next Generation Urban Leadership Academy will engage the leaders in professional growth focused on the wonders and challenges of urban leadership to transform the learning experience of every learner, facilitate systems redesign and lead for equitableaccess and opportunity. 

FCPS Superintendent Demetrus Liggins welcomed the group gathered at the John D. Price Administration Building for the first of 10 planned sessions. “When I saw the list, I was very excited to know you’re a part of this inaugural event,” he said. “I envision this will be a very powerful cohort and you’ll be the leaders that continue to move us to a place of ‘Education Beyond Expectation.’” 

Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason Glass, a special guest at the Aug. 30 leadoff meeting, commended FCPS for a smart approach. “It’s healthy to create supports and encourage career growth within your organization,” he said. 

This diverse group of employees will not only develop new skills but also brainstorm solutions for districtwide problems, like a think tank. Lu Young, executive director of the Center for Next Generation Leadership and a clinical professor in the Department of Educational Leadership Studies, is the lead facilitator. The participants will meet monthly, with project work in between. 

“It’s about transforming, facilitating and leading. You’re the learner and the leader in these sessions,” Young told the group. “This is about an investment in your professional future and building this kind of leadership bench is only good for the organization.” 

“Leadership matters. Relationships matter,” she added. “It really gets at the heart of the FCPS values.” 

For more than a decade, UK has offered leadership academies for school personnel through the Center for Next Generation Leadership in the College of Education. The program is designed to develop and enhance leadership skills in school leaders, equipping them with the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to effectively lead change efforts in schools. The leadership academies offer a comprehensive curriculum that covers a wide range of topics including communication, decision-making, problem-solving, teamwork and conflict resolution.  

Faculty on the UK team leading the academies are based in the Department of Educational Leadership Studies, where degree programs are focused on preparation of educational leaders. Faculty and center personnel have decades of collective experience leading schools and facilitating research and learning on best practices related to preparing school leaders to implement deeper learning systems and other innovative schoolwide strategies to improve learning outcomes.