World Class Schools Fellowship

Great Schools Need Great Leaders

California is home to some excellent public schools serving low-income students and students of color. However, we just don’t have enough of them.

That is why Innovate Public Schools launched the World-Class Schools Fellowship in the fall of 2013. We coach and develop school leaders to design and run excellent and equitable schools. Since launching, we have supported over 75 fellows leading 20 schools throughout the Bay Area and Los Angeles.


Innovate Public Schools’ World Class Schools Fellowship draws on proven best practices from high-impact districts and organizations nationwide and new, innovative models. The best schools in the country vary in their curriculum, approach, and the communities they serve, but share core elements that are essential to their success which we detail in our World-class Schools Framework.

The Fellowship runs during the school year, kicking off in summer each year.

Key Elements of the Fellowship

Training in Leadership Development Grounded in Equity

The foundation of the Fellowship is approximately six days of training focused on equity, leadership, and organizational design. Fellows will develop the language and mindsets to better talk about race, identity, and inclusion as it shows up in their school contexts and individual leadership.We are building a diverse community with other leaders committed to advancing intersectional racial equity culture across their work.

During our Leading for Equity (LFE) sessions, Fellows will participate in a 360-degree evaluation. This experience allows each Fellow to compare how their self-perceptions about their leadership abilities may or may not differ from the perceptions their professional peers hold about their leadership. Through this process Fellows construct a leadership development plan that will become the foundation of 1:1 leadership coaching provided by Innovate’s Schools team.

Excellent School Visits

At least four times throughout the year, the cohort of World-class Schools Fellows will participate in site visits to excellent schools across the Bay Area, taking advantage of the fact that this region is home to some of the best public schools in the state serving low-income children. Each school visit will be structured to complement topics explored in recent Fellowship meetings and seminars. During site visits, Fellows will have an opportunity learn from and dialogue with principals and other school leaders who have developed model programs that are delivering impressive results. During structured debriefing conversations following each site visit, Fellows will solidify their understanding of what structures and programs make each school excellent. Effective practices Fellows observe will then be integrated into the design plans that they create.

Online Course Platform and Modules

Fellows will have access to our interactive online course platform and all corresponding modules dedicated to deepening the knowledge and understanding of what it takes to lead a World Class School. Our models include readings, videos, and discussions that provide fellows additional opportunities to see the World Class Schools pillars come to life.

Seminars on High-Impact Topics for World-class School Leaders

In addition, there will also be seminars, led by experts in the field, including:

  • Creating schools with deep parent engagement and leadership and building strategic community support for new schools.
  • Developing a school culture rooted in the principles of growth-mindset and implementing programs that build grit, persistence, and positive character to foster student success.
  • Implementing a consistent and high quality instructional coaching model to ensure that teachers grow in their practice continually.
  • Leveraging best practices related to personalizing learning with technology to ensure that all students are successful and to ensure that leaders develop a culture of effective use of student level data.
  • Concrete planning for the first days and weeks with students and teachers.


Innovate’s Schools team, who have extensive experience launching & leading great schools and mentoring school leaders, will provide regular 1-1 coaching and support for each Fellow, focused on individual leadership development plans that each Fellow develops during the program. During the initial months of the Fellowship, coaching will focus on ensuring that each leader has a clear understanding of their leadership strengths and areas for improvement. They will explore how they can improve their leadership and will learn how to create a strong vision for their school that is aligned with their core beliefs as educators. Later in the Fellowship year, coaching will focus primarily on the continued improvement of each Fellow’s school design plans.

Network of colleagues, supporters, and learners

The World-class Schools Fellowship is designed to enable Fellows to build a network of colleagues who can learn from and support each other over the long-term and to help people feel part of a larger, inspiring movement. Fellows will be afforded many opportunities to engage in rigorous dialogue about effective models of school design and student support. They will also be able to visit one another’s schools and engage in dialogue beyond the formal Fellowship sessions. Innovate staff will foster collaboration between Fellows by ensuring that a steady stream of communication occurs between Fellows and to ensure that Fellows with similar visions for their schools are able to share ideas and practices.

Ongoing coaching during the year following the Fellowship, and access to alumni support

After participating in the Fellowship year, principals may receive ongoing coaching from Innovate staff the following year (2021-22) as they implement their school design plans. Depending on the need of the fellow / school, school partners may contract with Innovate for additional support, such as school-based support to help implement school design plans, and the completion of a thorough school review process to establish baseline data and measure progress throughout the year.

Additionally, Fellows build a network of colleagues who can learn from and support each other over the long-term. Innovate alums have access to other Fellowship alumni and their schools, and are invited to a variety of Innovate-organized school visits and convenings with local and/or national education leaders.

Example Fellowship Timeline

*Exact dates will vary each year.

For the 20-21 tentative WCS Fellowship Calendar, please click here.

Meet our Schools Team!  

Meet our Schools Team!


Elena Luna, ACE Charter
Supt. John Porter, Franklin-McKinley School District
Hear what Fellows Say About the Experience

Fellowship Partner Organizations

Since launching in 2013, we have worked with over 60 fellows to launch and/or lead over 20 schools throughout the Bay Area.

School Districts

  • Alum Rock
  • Franklin-McKinley
  • Mt. View-Whisman
  • Redwood City
  • Santa Clara Unified
  • San Jose Unified
  • Milpitas Unified
  • West Contra Costa Unified

Charter School Networks

  • ACE Charter Schools
  • Alpha Public Schools
  • Bullis Charter School
  • Downtown College Prep
  • Infinity College Academy
  • Ipso Schools
  • Navigator Schools
  • Oxford Day Academy
  • Rocketship Education
  • Voices College-Bound Language Academy

School Innovation Grantees

  • Alpha Public Schools
  • Education for Change
  • Gilroy Unified
  • Mt View-Whisman School District
  • Navigator Schools
  • Oakland Unified
  • San Francisco Unified