NAESP, the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools, and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education Honor Latest Pre-K–3 Leadership Academy Cohort

These educators represent the seventh Alabama cohort to participate in the award-winning professional learning program.

Alexandria, VA—May 1, 2024—With a commitment to preparing school leaders to help provide high-quality and aligned early learning, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS), and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (ADECE) are pleased to announce 13 school leaders have recently completed the NAESP Pre-K–3 Leadership Academy®.  

The participants represent the seventh Alabama cohort to participate in the award-winning professional learning program that provides principals and educators with a job-embedded experience in developmentally appropriate early learning leadership practices.

“NAESP is proud of the ongoing relationship we’ve cultivated with our partners in Alabama to offer early childhood education training to school leaders,” said NAESP Executive Director L. Earl Franks, Ed.D., CAE. “These educators have shown a deep commitment to ensuring the success of Alabama’s youngest learners, and their dedication to implementing best practices in early childhood is truly inspiring. Congratulations to the 2024 NAESP Pre-K–3 Leadership Academy graduates from Alabama.”

The academy has directly supported Alabama’s school leaders in deepening their knowledge of the needs of young children and sharpening their skills as instructional leaders of early learning, a critical missing component in aligned early learning systems. NAESP’s foundational competency guide, Leading Learning Communities: A Principal’s Guide to Early Learning and the Early Grades (Pre-K−3rd Grade), provides the framework for the NAESP Pre-K-3 Leadership Academy.

The Alabama cohort focused on competencies such as developing and fostering partnerships with families and communities, ensuring equitable learning opportunities, promoting a culture of continuous improvement, and building professional capacity across the learning community. In addition to coursework, cohort members participated in a culminating Capstone Project that allowed them to apply their learning to a problem of practice within their school or district. 

The academy is funded by the ADECE through Governor Kay Ivey’s Strong Start, Strong Finish education initiative and by the federal Preschool Development Grant, Birth through Five.  

“The Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools is proud to partner with NAESP and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education to provide this valuable professional development opportunity,” said Dr. Vic Wilson, Executive Director of the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools. “We congratulate the graduates and look forward to seeing the impact they will have on Alabama’s early childhood education landscape.”

The academy has shown great success in bridging the gap between early childhood programs and early elementary schooling. Results from an implementation study conducted by the Southern Regional Education Board indicate that 90 percent of respondents reported that the academy helped them to “better meet the needs of vulnerable children.” Participants also reported growth in Pre-K–3 leadership competencies such as ensuring developmentally appropriate teaching and using multiple measures of assessment to guide growth in student learning.

NAESP and our partners at CLAS and the ADECE congratulate these Pre-K–3Leadership Academy participants, who received their certification as a Pre-K–3 Credentialed Leader:

  • Larry Bradford Chaney, Principal, Underwood Elementary School
  • TriShonne Tullos Cornelius, Principal, Deborah Cannon Wolfe Elementary School
  • Caleb Elrod, Principal, Parkside Elementary School
  • Amy Marie Lockhart, Assistant Principal, Valley Junior High School
  • Bart Lockhart, Principal, Oakman Middle School
  • Nathaniel Waller Martin, Principal, Brookwood Elementary School
  • Sharon Nichole Phillips, PreK Administrator, Madison City PreK Center
  • Bridgett Powell, Principal, Martin Middle School
  • Laurie Davis Presley, Principal, Taylorville Primary School
  • Nick Donald Rose, Assistant Principal, Taylorville Primary School
  • Annie Spike, Deputy Superintendent, Marshall County Schools
  • Craig White, Principal, Leroy High School
  • Dianne Williams, Principal, Cordova Elementary School

The leadership academy advisors were:

  • Tanya Guin, Pre-K Director, Walker County Public Schools
  • Kara Scholl, Principal, South Shades Crest Elementary School
  • Karen Stewart-Moore, Instructional Leader, Macon County Schools
  • Camille Wright, Consultant, Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education

For more information about the NAESP academy contact NAESP Associate Executive Director, Professional Learning, Gracie Branch, Ph.D., at