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 chosen 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 join in an exclusive two-day summer institute in their first year of programming followed by the opportunity to teach at Creative Writing Camp their second summer in the program.

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.

This is an application- and interview-based program.

A collaboration with The Herman H. Fleishman Foundation and The Powell Foundation.

Program Details

A 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

Priority Application Deadline

We are extending the application deadline. A new deadline will be determined soon.

Ready to apply?

Click on the green “Apply Now” button to the right and complete a few short questions to create an account.

Should you have questions, please contact slc@rice.edu or Emily Merriweather at 713-348-5333.


($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. 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.



2020 Early Literacy Leadership Academy Application


Join us for a free, convenient information session featuring Rice University's Yearlong Programs for early childhood and elementary educators. Information sessions take place on-campus at the Anderson-Clarke Center.

Attendance at an information session is not required to apply for ELLA.


Thank you for your interest in this course. Unfortunately, the course you have selected is currently not open for enrollment. Please complete a Course Inquiry so that we may promptly notify you when enrollment opens.