NGU News

NGU Launches Center for Educational Leadership and Research

Posted on: June 6, 2019
By LaVerne Howell,

Tigerville, SC — What began as an idea to expand the influence of North Greenville University (NGU), has resulted in the creation of The Center for Educational Leadership and Research at NGU’s Tim Brashier Campus at Greer. The Center’s goal is to conduct and support objective research related to public education, provide professional development, advance the study of organizational leadership through collaborative partnerships, and work with tools and resources to move research into practice. Dr. Harold Long, professor of education, serves as the Center’s director.

“North Greenville University’s education students already are highly sought-after, with 100% placement rate for new teachers who are seeking employment in schools. This new Center leverages the expertise of our outstanding faculty, allowing them to assist school districts in improving effectiveness,” said NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr.

In August 2018, the Center began to collaborate in partnerships and was selected in a competitive process by Greenwood District 52 to provide consulting and professional development in their schools. Since the award, Long and Dr. Shelley Dugle, associate dean of graduate programs in the College of Education, have re-designed a new school report card that is now sent to all the parents in the district.

Dr. Craig Drennon, who also works with the Center, has been instrumental in redesigning literacy instruction in both the primary and elementary schools, which has changed the way reading is taught in the two schools. Additional objectives have included implementation of data-driven practices among professional staff and working directly with district administration on leadership development and implementing research-based practices.

The Center first conducted a comprehensive needs assessment in the district. An analysis of data found that 86% of kindergarten students were reading significantly below grade level. The most recent reading assessment conducted by the district in February showed that only 18% of the kindergarten students were reading significantly below grade level.  The student test data showed similar increases in other grades, but especially among the youngest students where real intervention is critical to student success.

Part of the Center’s professional development strategy to raise student achievement also included a grant written on behalf of the district. 

In April, the Self Family Foundation in Greenwood officially announced that it had awarded $60,000 to fully fund the grant and provide literacy resources for both the primary and elementary schools. In addition to the classroom library sets of texts, the generous support of the Foundation will fund progress monitoring to further implement the Center’s objective of data-driven practices in their plan.

In just over eight months of the partnership between the Center and District 52 schools, Superintendent Dr. Rex Ward has described the Center’s work as a transformation of professional practices and “the results that we see have been incredible and we are looking forward to more great things to come.” 

Assistant Superintendent Joanne Campbell has described the Center as a “true blessing and Godsend to the teachers, students, and community of Ninety Six.”

In addition to the significant increases in student achievement, the Center has been instrumental in both policy and personnel changes in the district, which will continue to have a direct impact on the broader community for several years.

“We believe we will see additional partnerships added and are particularly grateful for the support of the Self Family Foundation in this project,” said President Fant.

Planning is already underway for the next phase of the project and will expand the scope of work to other departments, schools, and see the addition of new partners.

“At North Greenville University, we are committed to coming alongside public educators throughout our region to help facilitate educational flourishing,” said NGU Provost and Dean of the University Faculty Dr. Nathan A. Finn. “I am grateful for the work of Dr. Long and his colleagues at the Center for Educational Leadership and Research are doing to serve schools and, ultimately, help students to succeed.”

The Center, Greenwood 52 schools, and the Self Family Foundation have completed their first year of an important collaborative partnership. This partnership is the direct result of an idea to expand the influence of NGU, and the Center for Educational Leadership and Research continues to have a significant influence on the employees and families throughout the community in Ninety Six.

“The Center for Educational Leadership and Research allows NGU to discover the needs of our educational institutions and provide research-based practices to help improve our schools. Dr. Long has done an exceptional job with developing and executing the Center,” said Dean of the College of Education Dr. Constance Wright. “This is an amazing opportunity for NGU to continue to establish partnerships that will provide consulting and professional development to better the educational community for school districts across the state of South Carolina and beyond.”

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