Cumberland University


School of Ed grant proposal moves forward



Cumberland University TN Lead Grant proposal to develop educational leaders moves forward

Cumberland University faculty recently defended a proposal for an $810,000 grant to support the development of transformational school leaders across the state before a panel of Tennessee Department of Education representatives. The three primary authors of the grant proposal, Dr. Charles Long, Dr. Kim Finch, and Dr. Sandy Smith, defended the grant on April 8 along with Dr. Eric Cummings, the dean of the School of Humanities, Education, and the Arts.

33 universities, private not-for-profits, and P-12 school districts across the state of Tennessee applied for over $3.5 million in funding to be distributed among recipients. Nine programs moved to this semi-finalist stage.

“This was a highly competitive grant process,” said Long, director of Cumberland’s Master of Education in Instructional Leadership program. “We’re very pleased to have moved to the next stage in this grant, which recognizes our capacity to create great school leaders.”

“I am excited that the teacher education faculty at CU are being recognized above so many strong programs in Tennessee for our practitioner focus and our creative approach to developing a ‘program of distinction’ for school leadership in a sustainable way in Middle Tennessee,” said Finch, who will supervise the implementation of the grant. “I think we have a really good chance to be finalists.”

The proposed initiative would use grant funds to embed grant recipients full-time in apprenticeship-style field experiences with selected regional school principals for a year, during which the candidates will complete a master’s degree in educational leadership. The grant allows those teachers to take a fully-funded leave of absence during that year.

“In this way, it’s the teachers and school systems that benefit the most from the grant,” said Smith.

The grant candidates, who will be current teachers, and host school principals will be identified through a rigorous selection process involving university faculty, local school districts, and representatives from high-profile Tennessee businesses and local community representatives.

The Tennessee Department of Education will meet with all nine semi-finalists Monday and Tuesday and reconvene to determine the finalists and the total amount of funding for each. Results of these discussions are expected May 1.

The request for proposals can be seen at: