• slide

    Empowering urban schools with
    leaders who are change agents

What does it take to become a transformational leader? What does it take to become a Principal Fellow?  

Drive. Passion. Focus. Leadership. Grit. Those are just a few of the words used to describe the Accelerate Institute Principal Fellows. They’re the leaders who are out there with a plan—the right plan to make a dramatic impact in the lives of children living in high-poverty communities.  

It’s not easy. Any Principal Fellow will tell you that. But they’ll also tell you that the hard work they put in—tirelessly, day in and out—pays off in the success stories they’re helping create for all of our children.

Hear from some Principal Fellows in their own words 

Tom McPherson: The Ryan Fellowship Experience

Tom McPherson: The Ryan Fellowship Experience

Tonya Randall: Learning to Lead

Tonya Randall: Learning to Lead

Dawn Sandoval: Accelerating Student Achievement

Dawn Sandoval: Accelerating Student Achievement

Lindsey’s Story: From TFA to The Ryan Fellowship

Lindsey’s Story: From TFA to The Ryan Fellowship

Owen Ricciardi: Joining the Memphis Movement

Owen Ricciardi: Joining the Memphis Movement

Have questions about the Principal Fellowship? Go here.


About the Principal Fellowship  

Principal Fellows are the nation’s next generation of highly-effective school principals

Accelerate Institute partners with schools and CMOs in our Principal Fellowship regions to identify, develop, and support aspiring school principals through a rigorous three-year program. Principal Fellows learn how to lead a successful school through the objectives of the Accelerate Framework: Change Management, High-Performing Team, Constructive Environment, Aspirational Environment, Data-Driven Culture, and Black Belt Teaching. They also receive individualized Advisory as they strengthen and develop the leadership skills and characteristics of transformational school leaders.

During the Fellowship Year (Year 1) Principal Fellows complete a 2-week Summer Institute in Chicago and then spend the academic year completing their Field Study (residency) in their region where they have the opportunity to practice, plan, and prepare for school leadership. Once Fellows successfully complete Year 1 and begin their careers as principals, they receive two additional years of customized Advisory and support to ensure their success and the dramatic acceleration of student achievement.  

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions


Timeline of the Principal Fellowship

Year 0 Summer – Accelerate Summer Institute at Kellogg

Year 0 Fall/Spring – Field Study in Principal Fellowship Region (7-11 months)

Year 1 – Begin Principalship with Ongoing Accelerate Institute Support*

Year 2 – Principalship with Ongoing Accelerate Institute Support

*Some Principal Fellows have an additional “planning year” after the Fellowship Year in anticipation of a new school launch or principalship opportunity where they may remain in an AP/DOI position or in a formal planning year. This is a decision between the Principal Fellow and the school site, and Accelerate Institute will begin Year 1 support when the Fellow is in a principalship with students in attendance.

Meeting the Challenge: A Pragmatic Approach to Developing Aspiring Principals

Advisory Model  

Principal Fellows come into the program with a continuous improvement mindset


  • Shows a relentless pursuit of perfection
  • Learns and iterates constantly; gets better all the time
  • Has a “whatever it takes” mindset

The Principal Fellowship does not subscribe to one type of coaching, but instead draws from proven techniques and the knowledge and experience of our team members. These include the techniques from the Talent Code, Blended Coaching, and Six Steps of Effective Feedback. Practice coupled with professional support is what strengthens one’s ability to handle the greatest challenges and highest pressure situations as if they have been there before.

Schools led by Principal Fellows are across the U.S.

Principal Fellow Cities  

Where are they are making a difference?

Click on the links below to see these transformational leaders by city. They come from across the nation, but they all have one thing in common: a passion and drive to close the achievement gap in underserved schools.


Baton Rouge


Columbus, OH




Las Vegas

Los Angeles






New York City

Oklahoma City, OK


San Francisco

Springfield, MI



Principal Fellows continue to make an impact across the nation

Principal Fellows have established themselves as a corps of transformational leaders who take a relentless approach to unleash the potential of our most vulnerable students. Here are just a few of their recent accomplishments:

  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide

Have questions about the Principal Fellowship? Click here.

Accelerate Institute is approved by the Private Business and Vocational Schools Division of the Illinois Board of Higher Education. You may contact them by calling (217) 782-2551 or send an email to info@ibhe.org. To file a complaint, visit the IBHE online complaint system at complaints.ibhe.org. Accelerate Institute is not accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting body.