School Leader Programs

  • We are devoted to a system of growth and support for aspiring leaders. Through the Leadership Pathways & Development team, Denver Public Schools (DPS) is able to offer multiple distinct leadership preparation programs, which provide aspiring school leaders the opportunity to develop alongside an experienced and successful school leader. The programs are designed to consistently prepare new leaders for DPS leadership roles by offering course content that is aligned to our School Leadership Framework while supporting development that meets the aspiring leader’s career goals.

    To learn more about each program, click on each below.

  • Denver Lead Today - Alternative Principal Licensure Courework +

    Through Denver Lead Today, an alternative licensure curriculum, highly qualified leaders from any sector can achieve alternative licensure. Participants engage in on-the-job learning experiences, leadership mentoring, a personalized professional learning plan, and coursework that is delivered through a series of classes taught by experienced DPS leaders. Candidates come to the program with a set of existing leadership competencies and skills, and are prepared to assume an assistant principal or principal role in a DPS school, achieve licensure within three years, and impact student achievement on day one. Learn more about the program at DPS Careers – Denver Lead Today.

    * Program includes internship, residency, or fellowship

  • Learn to Lead - Denver Principal Residency +

    DPS leaders interested in strengthening and developing knowledge and skills related to the role of a school principal. Residents work alongside the school’s principal and take on leadership responsibilities. This is designed for experienced education leaders to develop the competencies expected of principals in DPS. Learn more about the program at DPS Careers – Learn to Lead.

    * Program includes residency or fellowship


    Learn to Lead grows future principals who lead for positive change in our schools and communities. The program emphasizes leadership strategies and dispositions individuals need to be effective principals. Program includes seminars, on-the-job shadowing and practice, job-embedded projects, and individualized coaching. The target audience for the residency is leaders who are within 4 months of being ready for a principal role.

    The selection process for the 20-21 cohort of Learn to Lead will include two components:

    1. Complete and submit application including your leadership statement, and most recent LEAD evaluation and CollaboRate feedback.
    2. Apply and interview for the DPS Principal Pool. (This component is new.)

    Priority Deadline for Applications in January 31, 2020. 

    Please contact LEAD for questions.

  • New Principal and Assistant Principal Onboarding and Induction +

    Supporting Your Development from Day One

    New Principal and Assistant Principal Onboarding is a comprehensive school leader orientation and development program that provides Assistant Principals and Principals who are either new to the district or to their leadership role with resources and support they need to accelerate acclimation into their new role. Onboarding will develop foundational skills, knowledge, connections and competencies to become effective leaders of leaders. The Onboarding Program is designed to:

    • Clarify job expectations for new principals and assistant principals which will improve performance
    • Improve new Leaders’ ability to adjust to their jobs by accelerating their cultural familiarity and fostering connections—with information, as well as with people—across the district
    • Build collegial relationships in the early months
    • Deliver emerging knowledge-level training on topics that are uniquely important to new Principal and Assistant Principal roles at DPS, setting leaders up to lead with informed effective decisions and actions
    • Make school leader onboarding more culturally responsive 
    • Ensure a faster path to productivity and success at DPS 

    Why Onboarding?

    The DPS vision that Every Child Succeeds is dependent on talent management strategies and supports that ensure we are finding, growing, retaining and amplifying the impact of great school leaders from day one. In an effort to advance school leadership excellence and help every school leader succeed, the Leadership Pathways & Development team has worked collaboratively with key partners to design a more responsive, multi-dimensional, flexible and efficient principal and assistant principal onboarding program to support first-year success and beyond. Successful onboarding programs have been proven to increase retention, productivity, overall positive attitude and accelerate integration into leadership roles.

  • Thrive Fellowship +

    THE THRIVE FELLOWSHIP. Advancing Teacher Leadership. 
    DPS believes that strong school leaders are one of the most important factors in helping us achieve our vision that Every Student Succeeds. As DPS continues to pioneer an innovative distributive school leadership model, Leadership Excellence and Development (LEAD), formerly Lead in Denver, is dedicated to empowering current, new and aspiring school leaders and those who manage them with a wide range of personalized, targeted and effective professional learning opportunities, supports and resources to advance school leadership excellence and help DPS school leaders at all levels succeed.

    In order to ensure we are finding, growing, retaining and amplifying the impact of great school leaders in DPS as well as the development of successful instructional leadership teams, the LEAD Team has worked collaboratively with Teacher Leader and Collaboration (TLC) to enable team leaders an opportunity to grow as leaders and advance their leadership competencies and impact while remaining in their role.

    Founded on the belief that our best team leads are a key resource in our mission to close the opportunity gap for our students, The Thrive Fellowship provide our strongest Senior/Team Leads with an opportunity to extend their impact and deepen their instructional leadership.


    • For the past five years, the TLC program has shown us that teachers are a powerful force for change on our campuses. We also know that our most effective leaders are ready for deeper learning.
    • Just as all teacher leaders build school capacity to better support teachers and great instruction, extending the impact and deepening the leadership of our most effective teacher leaders can lead to even more dramatic impacts on instruction.
    • Thrive Fellows will be as effective as possible on their school Instructional Leadership Teams, expand their impact to more teachers and make deeper impact within their current teacher teams.
    • The Thrive Fellowship experience also represents recognition of Senior Team Leads’ contributions and a unique opportunity to grow professionally.
    • Participating Team Leads will be energized by the experience to continue their work while finding new ways to make a positive impact as essential leaders in their schools.


    Because we know that professional learning is accelerated and enhanced when it combines continuous job-embedded, social and formal learning opportunities the THRIVE Fellowship is designed using the 70:20:10 learning model.

    Graphic showing 70-20-10 learning model (10% Structured Learning, 20% Social Learning, 70% Experiential Learning)  

    The Fellowship experience will include advanced learning opportunities, peer feedback and coaching, exposure to diverse leaders in DPS and the City of Denver. Specifically:

    • Monthly learning and collaboration sessions
    • Cohort-based coaching
    • Dialogue with senior leaders
    • Action research project

    Please select on a brochure for Thrive.


    This year, Denver Public Schools is offering several opportunities for Team Leads and Senior Team Leads to advance their learning and impact both within and beyond their campuses. These opportunities are offered in partnership between the Teacher Leadership and Collaboration (TLC) and Leadership Excellence and Development (LEAD) Teams and have been developed to ensure that our most passionate team leads gain access to learning and partnership opportunities that enable them to pursue their interests and advance their impact. 

    For the 2019-20 school year, the Advanced Teacher Leadership Opportunities include the following:

    • Thrive Fellowships for Coaching & Leadership and Special Education. Denver Public Schools is proud to launch the second year of the Thrive Fellowship. The goal of Thrive is to provide our strongest teacher leaders with an opportunity to extend their impact and deepen their instructional leadership. The program will include monthly learning and collaborative sessions (sessions will vary with some during the day with release time and some taking place after school), cohort-based coaching, dialogue with senior leaders and a capstone action research project. This year, in addition to the Thrive Fellowship - Coaching & Leadership Cohort, DPS will also be launching a Thrive Fellowship - Leadership for Special Education Cohort to focus on issues and learning specific to those with interest and expertise in Special Education. It is anticipated that the work of the two cohorts will be focusing on inclusive practices for all students and will be working collaboratively for specific portions of the Thrive Fellowship. In order to participate in the Thrive Fellowship for Special Education, it is not necessary that you have a license in Special Education, but is is required that you have a desire and a willingness to lead for change and growth for our students with disabilities. Both cohorts of the Fellowship will launch in the summer of 2019, and activities will take place throughout the 2019-20 school year. For the full program overview, click here.
    • Thrive Partnership A Thrive Partner is a Senior/Team Lead who, in addition to providing high-quality instruction in their own classroom and leading a team of teachers at their school, further magnifies their impact by facilitating diverse, inspiring and applicable professional learning opportunities for teacher leaders district-wide. The goal of Thrive Partnership is to build the capacity of teacher leaders across the district. There are three different areas of specializations for this role. Professional Learning Facilitator: Build the leadership capacity of teacher leaders across the district through the facilitation of professional learning including in-person sessions, virtual learning and/or learning labs. New Senior/Team Lead Cohort Leader: Build the leadership capacity of new Senior/Team Leads across the district through meaningful communities of practice. Aspiring Ambassador: Build the district’s capacity to cultivate, recruit and select Teachers Leaders for the S/TL roles. A Thrive partner does not have additional release time for this leadership role but will earn an additional stipend. For more information on Thrive partner roles, click here.


    Please check back later for more information.

  • Traditional Licensure Programs +

    University of Denver Morgridge College of Education – Educational Leadership & Policy Studies

    (Ritchie ELSS) immerses students in graduate-level coursework, the DPS LEAD Framework and project-based learning that prepares them for school leadership positions upon program completion. We approach this preparation through the use of improvement science, inclusive excellence, 21st century teaching and learning, and transformative leadership. Content is individualized to the leadership needs of the aspiring leader and the needs of the school the leader serves at as the site of the internship. The 30-quarter-hour curriculum for the Certificate, leading to a principal license, integrates coursework with an internship supported by a mentor principal and is completed in one calendar year. The MA in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies builds from the Certificate and consists of an additional 15 quarter-hour curriculum that consists of a deeper view of equity, design thinking, and action research for an additional three quarters. Learning is fostered through a blended cohort of interactive online study, a three-day summer retreat, 10 Saturday cohort workshops and webinars, monthly evening seminars, and an internship. The curriculum is aligned to meet state and national standards for educational leadership excellence. Learn more about the program overview, philosophy and format at DPS Ritchie Program for School Leaders.

    * Program includes internship, residency or fellowship