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Five Piedmont teachers are preparing for the next challenge in their careers.

They are part of the first cohort in Salem Academy and College’s recently launched Master of Education in Educational Leadership program at Salem College.

One of its primary goals is to provide the training and development necessary to place more women in administrative positions.

“We know that most teachers especially at the elementary level are female and when you compare the percentages of teachers in the profession to the number of female administrators, we need more good female leadership at the school level and at the district levels,” the program’s Education Professional-In-Residence Dr. Carol Kirby said.

Students Loni Worsley, Natalie Charles, Savannah Sperlazza, Emily Osborne, and Amanda Padgett come from diverse educational backgrounds.

Between them, they have experience teaching Exceptional Children and working as an instructional coach, literacy coach, and learning pod facilitator.

The students just finished their first semester in the program.

“This was the right time for me because I felt like I was in a place at work where I wasn’t learning anymore and so I wanted to get back into the role of learner and not just teaching,” Worsley said.

“I feel like we all came into this program doubting a little bit if we could be that strong leader and one of the great things about this program, out of the gate, there was a lot of reflection of experiences that we have had and looking at it through a different lens of being that principal or having that leadership position, and I think we all have a passion for advocating,” Charles said.

The program takes 2½ years to complete.

Courses include Contemporary Issues and Social Justice, School Ethics and Law, Creating a Culture of School Success, and Engaging Families and Communities.

“I would say what a wonderful time for us to be starting a program like this. Schools were looking at what they were going to do to return after COVID, so as future leaders, a lot of us were a part of [that] decision making in our schools and in our communities,” Sperlazza said.