Early Literacy Leadership

Your Next Step For Your School's Next Leap

The Early Literacy Leadership Academy (ELLA) is a rigorous two-year certificate program designed to bring together early childhood professionals from public, private and charter school settings who are committed to serving as teacher leaders from their classrooms. Teachers selected to participate in ELLA experience a unique combination of three semesters of monthly seminars and mentored learning plus one semester of independent study, with all four semesters supported by online learning. Participating ELLA teachers will also experience exclusive summer content modules in their first year of programming followed by the opportunity to teach at Creative Writing Camp their second summer in the program.

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Monthly Seminars
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Mentored Learning
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Independent Study

Sampling of Seminar Topics

What constitutes quality early childhood education?

Child development theory and pedagogy

The role of oral language in early literacy development

Vivian G. Paley’s storytelling and story acting practices

Executive functioning and self-regulation through play

The neuroscience of brain development

Culture and community

Early literacy instruction

The Rice Experience

Why should you choose Rice's Early Literacy Leadership Academy?

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Rice University has a rich history of bringing great minds together in service to society, with a 55-year history in the education field. School districts all over Texas trust and hire Rice graduates as valued members of their campuses.

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As educators, we understand that your time is at a premium. The Early Literacy Leadership Academy consists of monthly seminars, mentored learning, and independent study and is supported by online learning. Our program maximizes your time investment and offers the flexibility to help ensure your success.

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Rice is known across the world as a top-quality university. We’ve earned that stellar reputation by drawing on our strengths: A location in one of the best cities in America and a student base of diverse, exceptional individuals.

Plan of Study

ELLA teacher leaders study child development theory and research-into-practice literacy strategies that promote listening, speaking, reading, writing, and reasoning in year one. Year two brings a specialization in early literacy leadership where participants focus on best practices in leadership and sharing this information with others at their campuses. Teachers completing all requirements of the ELLA program will receive a Leadership Certificate from Rice University. SLC’s Classroom Storytelling or Developing Oral Language programs are a pre-requisite to participating in ELLA.


Application Deadline

March 3, 2025

Ready to apply?

To learn more about the program, please join us for an upcoming information session. If you are ready to apply, start below.


Resuming an application: To resume an application, please log in to your student portal. You will find a saved instance of your application in the tab titled “My Applications”.


Individuals seeking to apply for the Early Literacy Leadership Academy must complete one of two prerequisite programs: 

Application Requirements

  • Recommendation letters from an administrator and a peer
  • Current resume
  • Short answer questions
  • Classroom observations
  • Interviews
Tuition & Scholarship


$7,500 total or $3,750 per year

Tuition is typically covered through campus- or district-based state or national funding, PTO support, participant payment, or individual donations. For more information, please contact slc@rice.edu.


Rice University believes in the importance of developing teacher leaders. The Early Literacy Leadership Academy offers a limited number of merit-based partial fellowships to highly qualified prospective students. Fellowship opportunities can be discussed during the interview stage of the application process.

Your Next Step...

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