Lead Learn Excel

Decades of research have demonstrated that effective leaders are the key drivers of improvements in educational settings, including early childhood programs. With those findings in mind, our research team helped develop Lead Learn Excel, a leader fellowship designed to enhance early education program quality and child outcomes by supporting and improving instructional leadership.

Our research on adult learning among early education practitioners resulted in an approach that combines training, coaching, and peer learning to drive program improvement. Our focus is on strengthening key organizational supports: effective leaders, collaborative teachers, supportive environment, involved families and ambitious instruction.

Key Findings

  • In school settings, we have found that instructional leadership and embedded professional learning serve to transform not just preschool classrooms, but all grades served in the school building.

Publications and Resources

Ounce Research and Evaluation Team

  • Marsha Hawley, Director, Implementation and Practice Improvement; Director, Lead Learn Excel Illinois

Stakeholder Organizations

  • McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership
  • ExceleRate Illinois
  • Illinois Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development
  • Illinois State Board of Education
  • Illinois Department of Human Services


  • Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant
    • US Department of Education
    • US Department of Health and Human Services

Point of Contact