The NRPA Directors School is an exclusive two-year professional development opportunity that prepares new and potential park and recreation directors to be effective leaders. Students who complete the program will leave with the knowledge and confidence to navigate emerging challenges, improve operations and maximize positive impact on their communities.

Who Should Attend?

  • Current park and recreation directors
  • Current park and recreation assistant/deputy directors
  • Mid-level managers working towards a park and recreation director position

2021 NRPA Virtual Directors School

August 13-31, 2021

The 2021 Virtual Directors School will be delivered online over the course of two-and-a-half weeks. Students will participate in both simultaneous and non-simultaneous course facilitation and will have the opportunity to engage in optional office hours with instructors and other social interactions.


NRPA member: $487
Nonmember: $525  

Year One Students

Year one students must first apply, then register for the school.
Registration is now full.

Join the Waitlist

Year Two Students

Only students who have completed year one can register for year two.
Registration is now full.

Join the Waitlist






Toro Scholarships

Toro LogoTwenty student scholarships were awarded in 2021 through the generosity of The Toro Company and the Toro Foundation.



Edroy Jenkins

The Edroy Jenkins Scholarship was started in 2010 by current students and began distributing scholarships to Year 2 students in 2012. Each year the 2nd year class takes the lead in organizing a fundraiser for the scholarship. A nonprofit board consisting of past Director’s School graduates oversees the program.

For its 10th year of providing scholarships for NRPA Directors School, the Edroy Jenkins Scholarship Board was pleased to provide one Year 2 Scholarship in 2021.

John C. Potts Scholarships

The AIPE/American Academy Foundation is offering four John C. Potts Leadership Development Scholarships to the 2021 Virtual Directors School. "Pottsie" scholarships are awarded to aspiring agency/department directors who have demonstrated leadership potential in their organizations. The Foundation gives strong consideration to candidates from agencies that lack the financial resources to apply to Year One of the Directors School. However, the agency must commit to financially support the scholarship winner to attend Year Two of the Directors School.

“The American Academy Foundation is committed to investing in the professional development of emerging parks and recreation leaders. The John C. Potts Leadership Development Scholarship provides an opportunity for aspiring leaders to learn and grow at NRPA’s Directors School,” says Mark Young, American Academy Foundation.


Attendee Resources

Learn more about Directors School policies and procedures and access the Year One and Year Two agendas.

Attendee Resources


Key Subjects Covered

Leadership Development           

  • Building a Responsive Team
  • Leadership for Diversity and Cultural Awareness
  • Developing a new generation of park and recreation directors
  • Creating a High-Performance Agency
  • Community Leadership


  • Creating a Strategy-Focused Organization
  • Creating a Data-Driven Organization
  • Going from Information to Inspiration    

Budget and Finance       

  • Business Management Strategies for Financial Stability
  • Philanthropic Funding for Capital Projects and Programming
  • Developing Capital Improvements Programs and Financing
  • Developing Financial Plans and Solutions
  • Leveraging Outside Plans and Solutions

Directors Role in the Political Environment        

  • Navigating Successfully in a Political Environment
  • Building Resilient Communities
  • Director’s Role in Advocacy
  • Directors Role in Community Development
  • Conservation

Responding to Changing Communities 

  • Responding to Community Needs
  • Environmental Sustainability and Climate
  • Crisis Management
  • Three Pillars Defining the Future
  • Innovation and Creativity
  • Parks and Recreation as a Partner in Community Health


What Do Graduates Say?

“To reach my goal to become a P&R Director and compete in the ultra-competitive recruitment process, I needed every edge possible. Directors School helped me gain that edge. It provided me basic knowledge and tools to use, demonstrated to the hiring city manager that I was dedicated to the industry and gave me the confidence to share my skills at the highest level. If it’s your desire to become a P&R director, you should be at this school.” — former participant

“This has been an awesome and wonderful experience. I only wish I had attended sooner. The classmates, instructors, accommodations and observers were great. The diversity of the school is an invaluable asset as practices, views, philosophies, differences, and commonalities are all brought together for the enrichment of all. My spark is now a healthy flame that is burning bright and hot and my aim is to re-light the flame in those I manage and lead in hopes of motivating in spite of our challenges. Thank you NRPA for a wonderful experience.” — former participant

“The expertise offered during Directors School is exceptional and the networking opportunity is invaluable.” — former participant

For more information about the program content, contact


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Sponsored by Toro