Governor Reappoints UNC Charlotte Professor to Principal Fellows Commission

Professor Jim Watson
Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Governor Roy Cooper has reappointed Jim Watson to the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Principal Fellows Commission. The board is made up of community leaders in universities, business, and professional organizations.

The Principal Fellows Program is a competitive, merit-based grant program that provides for eight universities in the state.. UNC Charlotte has hosted a principal fellows program for almost 30 years. Recently, the university was awarded a six-year grant for $3.7 million to train 20 principal fellows each year. The program’s mission is to prepare a pipeline of high-quality principals to meet the demands of the North Carolina principal workforce and to improve student learning outcomes in the state.

Students complete a two-year master’s program in school administration. In their second year, they work in the field under the guidance of a principal. After they graduate, they enter the workforce as principals, assistant principals, and deans.

The university services 11 school districts in the Southwest Education Region, which includes Charlotte-Mecklenburg and its adjacent counties. The principal fellows are nominated within each school district and upon completion return to their respective districts.

The program was started to address the needs of low-performing, underserved schools. “The Principal Fellows Program is an effort to get some of our best trained people in the schools that need leadership the most,” Watson explained.

Watson spent the first thirty years of his career in K-12 schools before coming to UNC Charlotte in 2008. He served as the superintendent of Lincoln County Schools for seven years, during which time he exchanged conversations with Attorney General Cooper about educational issues in the state. He is also a former assistant superintendent and was a high school and elementary school principal for 11 years.

In a letter announcing his reappointment, Governor Cooper thanked Watson for his continued commitment and service to the people of North Carolina and expressed his gratitude for donating his time and talents to move the state forward. Watson was appointed to a three-year term.

“We’re excited for UNC Charlotte to have a seat on the Principal Fellows Commission,” said Watson. “It’s an important commission.  When we first started, we had 16 slots—16 principal fellows. Now we have 74 people getting ready to graduate. There are other ways to earn your master's degree that the state will fund under the grant, so for our students it’s a tremendous benefit.”


by: James McDonnell, Communications Graduate Assistant