Preschool to 3rd Grade Leaders Fellowship


click here to complete the application

GEEARS’ Preschool to 3rd Grade (P-3) Leaders Fellowship is a year-long fellowship for early learning program directors, elementary principals, and district leaders to learn together, build relationships, and collaborate to strengthen the P-3 system in their area. 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 critical 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 missed. The P-3 continuum is served by a mosaic of separate 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 programs 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. 

If you’re an early childhood education director or a member of the administrative team at an elementary school from the City of Atlanta, Clayton, Fayette, or Gwinnett counties, GEEARS invites you to apply for the P-3 Leaders Fellowship for the 2024 – 2025 season.

click here to complete the application 

The deadline to apply is July 12, 2024.

Applications for the 2023-2024 school year are closed.


  • “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, Former 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


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. 
  • Four intensive virtual training sessions and intersession projects are designed to address key parts of the P-3 system, which include:
    • Networking and relationship-building across all P-3 settings
    • Learning about P-3 operations, local resources, and partner organizations, and the experiences of other leaders
    • Collaborative sessions to identify opportunities for alignment in core content areas like developmentally appropriate practices, data sharing, joint professional development, and other ways P-3 leaders can partner
    • Designing collaborative action plans for cross-sector teams to put their learning into practice even after graduating from the fellowship
  • Participants who complete the fellowship receive:
    • Certificate of completion from GEEARS
    • Completion ceremony & celebration outside of working hours
    • Where available, connections to grant funding for projects related to P-3 action plan projects
    • CEUs are available through the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL)

The When

  • The fellowship consists of 4 bi-monthly morning sessions and a short graduation ceremony. These typically begin in late September and end in March of the following year. Readings and short team activities are assigned between sessions that Fellows can schedule on their own, and that takes less than an hour a week.
  • We take care to view calendars to avoid holidays, typical school breaks, known events or training days, etc. That said, we know things come up. Fellows can graduate even if they have to miss one of the session dates or work with the facilitator and their team to devise a plan that keeps the Fellow engaged and supports the team’s work. We appreciate applicants who can commit to all sessions, as it will make the relationship-building model in the P-3 Leaders Fellowship work well.

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 of 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

  • The P-3 Leaders Fellowship is open to early learning program directors(or other leaders with a director’s reference) and elementary school principals or assistant principals (or other school leaders with a principal’s reference) employed at programs or schools located in the following areas:
    • City of Atlanta
    • Clayton County
    • Fayette County
    • Gwinnett County
  • Priority is given to applicants that apply jointly with their counterpart(s)from early learning programs or elementary schools in their area/school cluster. For example, a team of one elementary school and several nearby early learning centers. 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.
  • Provider network and district administrators are also encouraged to apply. These roles have a large part in strengthening the P-3 system, too, and learning alongside site-level teams can afford leaders insights into how to initiate, support, or collaborate vertically in organizations working in this age group.

The How

click here to complete the application 

The deadline to apply is July 12, 2024.

Questions? Email