CMS-Winthrop program aims to groom principals

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Winthrop University are teaming up to groom teachers, counselors and other front-line educators as future principals.

The Leaders for Tomorrow program is CMS's latest effort to ensure a supply of strong school leaders. Superintendent Peter Gorman said Wednesday he's working on another effort, which he'll unveil soon, to recruit and train people from other occupations.

Since Gorman took the top CMS job two years ago, he has appointed 75 principals, assistant principals and other high-ranking administrators.

Twenty-five rank-and-file educators began taking classes this summer, learning from Winthrop professors and CMS leaders. Grants of $75,000 from Advantage Carolina, a business-backed fund that promotes education and economic development, and $20,000 from Allen Tate Realtors cut the tuition cost for participants, who will earn master's degrees in educational leadership.

Current principals and other top administrators nominated educators they believed had potential to lead.

About 50 nominees made presentations and wrote papers about how they'd lead a school.

The first group of 25 will be ready to take administrative jobs in 2010; CMS plans to start recruiting a second group late this year.

In return for the tuition discounts, participants agree to stay in CMS for at least three years.

Educators who were not tapped for Leaders for Tomorrow remain free to earn advanced degrees and apply for promotion on their own.