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Rural School Leadership Academy Rural School Leadership Academy

Alt text: A group of RSLA educators posing for a photo

In rural regions across the country, there is a strong demand for committed, effective school leaders. The Rural School Leadership Academy is open to all educators passionate about rural education and driven toward school leadership roles.  

About the Rural School Leadership Academy

Develop the knowledge and skills necessary for school leadership roles while building a powerful network of aspiring school leaders in rural communities.

The Rural School Leadership Academy is a yearlong fellowship for up to 35 participants made up of  three streams of aspiring and current school leaders:

  • Classroom teachers who are beginning to explore school leadership roles.
  • Mid-level school-based leaders preparing for school principal roles.
  • School principals focused on building and sustaining their leadership.


The key program components include:

  • Three cycles of professional development focused on building school leadership competencies.
  • In person gatherings and school visits in rural communities during the fellowship. (safety permitting)
  • Continuous Participant-driven application of learning to impact participant’s school community.

Optional program components:

All program expenses are fully funded for participants.

2024-2025 Learning Cycles and Rural Gatherings

The program commitments are participation in 3 Learning Cycles and 1 Rural School Community Visit. The following are the tentative dates for the live & virtual gatherings for the 2023-2024 cohort. Final dates, locations, session overviews, materials, and event registration will be communicated in advance of each component. 

  • Summer 2024: Program Kick Off, New Mexico, in person conference and school visit, Tuesday July 15 - Friday, July 19, 2024 
  • Fall 2024: Virtual Learning Cycle, virtual content sessions, October 2024 
  • Fall/Winter 2024/25: Rural School Community Visit, in person school visits, location and specific dates TBD, Wednesday-Friday
  • Spring 2024: Program Conclusion, location TBD, in person conference and school visit, Thursday, March 6 - Sunday, March 9, 2025

Eligibility & Requirements

We are looking for applicants who are passionate about rural education and are driven toward school leadership roles.

This program is open to all rural educators. You do not need to be a Teach For America alum to apply.

We welcome school based teams to apply together, such as a principal, the assistant principal and a teacher leader from the same school. Each member of a team will submit an individual application. There is a space on the individual application to indicate if you are a member of a school team applying.

All Participants:

Must be working in a rural K-12 school setting for the 2024-25 school year.

Must be able to fully attend required components in all three learning cycles and at least one in person gathering. 

Participants currently teaching:

Should be teaching in a rural school.

Should be interested in pursuing an adult-facing leadership role in a rural K-12 school setting in the next 1-3 years.

Participants currently in school leadership roles:

Must be serving in a role where the majority of time is focused on leadership of adults. Common roles include: Assistant Principal, Principal, Instructional Coach, Dean, School Founder.

Mid level leaders should have clear aspirations toward principalship in a rural community in the next 1-3 years. All leaders should have clear aspirations to sustain their work in school leadership in a rural community for the next 2-5 years.

Should anticipate being in this role for the 2024-25 school year.



Final Deadline - Wednesday, 5/22/24 - 11:59pm HT

Please contact if you have any questions.

Tell us you are interested or nominate a colleague by completing this form.

What our participants are saying about RSLA

“RSLA has been an amazing way to continue my growth as a developing school leader. After completing my master's program last year, I was striving to find more ways that I could continue my leadership development. RSLA has done that and more. The focus on equity, racial justice, rurality, and strengthening core leadership competencies have significantly impacted my trajectory towards becoming an effective school leader. RSLA has been one of the most meaningful professional development opportunities I have ever participated in.”

“By allowing me to see beyond my community, RSLA has allowed me to become more rooted in my own rural context. I see myself as more of a leader and change maker than I did prior to RSLA.”

“I am extremely grateful for my RSLA experience because it has grown me in ways that I wouldn't have imagined coming into this program. I have gotten applicable tools, resources and strategies to lead with an equity-based lens and have an even greater sense of urgency.”

“I wish all my Professional Developments were like this. I built great relationships with my cohort through the experience.”

“One of the things that I loved most was the relevance of what we were learning to what is going on in our schools. The understanding of how important it is as leaders in rural schools to know ourselves, our students and our community as we explore diversity, equity and inclusion was so well done. It really was empowering as a rural leader to be thinking about how I can make these changes yet still honor the community in which I work.”

“I've learned strategies that I will be implementing on the daily basis.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Please contact if you have any questions that are not answered below.