P-3 Leaders Fellowship

GEEARS’ Preschool to 3rd Grade (P-3) Leaders Fellowship is a year-long fellowship for early learning program directors and elementary principals to learn together, build relationships, and collaborate to improve outcomes for their area’s youngest learners. In Atlanta, the P-3 Leaders Fellowship is conducted in partnership with PAACT: Promise All Atlanta Children Thrive, a citywide alliance convened by GEEARS that works to support high-quality early learning and the healthy development of Atlanta’s youngest children.

Decades of research and practice show just how important and interconnected children’s experiences are during their first 8 years of life, from birth through third grade. This period, which we refer to as “P-3” (Preschool to 3rd Grade), is a critical time because of the unparalleled pace of neurological, physiological, and social development in children. The opportunity to set children on a path to academic achievement and to better life outcomes is greatest during this P-3 period. 

All too often, however, the opportunity to align and improve childhood experiences during these critical years is overlooked. The P-3 continuum is served by a mosaic of systems, with different operating styles, needs, and resources.

As a result, children’s early experiences are often disconnected, parents often confused, and educators often unaware of what experiences came before or will come after – all contributing to missed opportunities for students.

To address this, GEEARS has designed the P-3 Leaders Fellowship program specifically for early learning program and school leaders, with a specialized curriculum developed with input from early learning providers, K-12 partners, and the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL). Over the course of four intensive sessions from September to March, Atlanta-area leaders from across the P-3 continuum will convene to become leading P-3 voices committed to strengthening early childhood outcomes. Site leaders from both early learning programs and local elementary schools are uniquely positioned to create meaningful change for this age group, promoting a more aligned and seamless experience across the birth-8 continuum.

Rarely are early learning and school system leaders afforded the chance to work together, develop solutions for themselves, and implement those coordinated practices. The P-3 Leaders Fellowship is an exciting opportunity to do just that. 

GEEARS invites center and school leaders to apply to the P-3 Leaders Fellowship this summer when applications open for the 2021-2022 academic year. The P-3 Leaders Fellowship will closely monitor the changing public health situation and make program and schedule adjustments as needed to conduct the fellowship effectively and ensure maximum participation.  

Applications open now through Friday, July 16th. Click here to apply.

The What

  • The P-3 Leadership Institute provides competitive applicants from early learning programs and elementary schools an opportunity to come together, develop as P-3 leaders, and better serve children and families. 
  • 4 intensive training sessions and intersession projects designed for elementary and early childhood leaders and addressing the following:
    • Networking and relationship-building across all P-3 settings, and learning of local resources and partner organizations
    • Collaborative sessions on identifying quality and opportunities for alignment in instructional practices, curricula, assessments, data sharing, and developmentally appropriate practices
    • The design of ongoing collaboration plans to enrich experiences for families and students and ensure future collaboration across settings
  • Participants who complete the fellowship receive:
    • Completion ceremony & celebration outside of working hours
    • Past P-3 Fellowship alumni received preferential consideration in the Office of Early Learning transition grants of up to $10,000, when available
    • CEUs available through the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL)

The When

  • Sessions for the ’21-’22 year are scheduled on a bi-monthly basis, beginning in late September 2021 and ending in March 2022. Specific dates to follow.  
  • GEEARS is sensitive to the changing and pressing needs on leaders’ schedules in the coming year and works with ECE provider partners and APS to avoid conflicts with long-term events.

The Why

  • Distinguish your leadership by becoming an experienced voice in the P-3 continuum.
  • Change the culture in your school community by using the fellowship experience to communicate the power in early learning and inspire action
  • Develop relationships with your counterparts in either early learning centers or elementary schools to promote a seamless, integrated educational pathway from preschool through 3rd grade

The Who

  • Atlanta-based early learning program directors (or other leaders with Director’s reference) may apply 
  • Atlanta elementary principals or assistant principals (or other school leaders with principal’s reference) may apply
  • Priority is given to applicants that apply jointly with their counterpart(s) from early learning programs or elementary schools in their area/school cluster. Applicants are not meant to apply with those in similar roles; the Fellowship seeks partnerships between early learning program directors and principals. GEEARS can help match applying P-3 leaders.

The How


    • “It was inspiring to watch leaders from across sectors learn together and from each other over the course of this program. Delving into concepts from equity to developmentally-appropriate practice to accountability, leaders developed a deeper understanding of the birth-8 continuum in their own communities.” – Sydney Ahearn, Director, APS Office of Early Learning
    • “I learned a lot about the different schools, testing, and curriculum. And just a better understanding of what each school needs. I will definitely stay in touch and be more knowledgeable of what is going on to share that information with my parents.” – Early Learning Center Director, ’19-20 Fellow
    • “I really appreciate you giving the opportunity to participate in P-3 Leaders Program. It has been a great experience. It is always nice to collaborate and build stronger communities.” – Early Learning Center Director, ’19-’20 Fellow

    Video Testimonial from Atlanta Principal, Jay Bland