A new cohort of 14 outstanding leaders from across America has joined The Broad Academy, the nation’s most prominent professional-development program for current and aspiring urban school-system leaders.
The two-year Broad Academy program — which is operated by The Broad Center — supports passionate, proven leaders who are deeply focused on the twin goals of equity and excellence for every student. The new cohort is comprised of aspiring urban superintendents as well as leaders already running high-performing public school systems as they work to grow their organizations and increase their impact.
- At San Jose Unified School District, superintendent Nancy Albarrán is focused on creating an environment in which rigorous instruction and high expectations for every student are the norm. She created a professional development approach that shapes the technical and relational knowledge and capability of teachers and leaders. She also collaboratively designed an innovative teacher and principal evaluation system that supports professional growth while maintaining a focus on results. Those results include improved graduation rates and SAT scores that significantly outperform the rest of the state.
- Made up of 26 schools serving 13,500 students, KIPP Houston Public Schools is building and educating the compassionate leaders of tomorrow in the city’s low-income communities. CEO and superintendent Sehba Ali is committed to ensuring their students and alumni are equipped with the academic skills and qualities of character to be successful to and through college as well as in the world beyond. As a result, the college graduation rate among KIPP Houston alumni is five times higher than the national average for low-income students.
- Despite a 40 percent decline in revenue over five years, the DeSoto Parish School System is driving significant improvements in student outcomes. Across the board, indicators for academic performance have improved under superintendent Cade Brumley's leadership. As an example, the district now holds a 96 percent graduation rate — up 20 percentage points over three years. Cade and the entire team in DeSoto serve to care for their students, ensure their learning and celebrate their graduation as citizens prepared to transform their dreams into realities.
- Since its inception, the now six-campus Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy in Rhode Island produces results significantly higher than state averages in reading and math. While the team at BVP believes that college begins in kindergarten, co-founder and executive director Jeremy Chiappetta and his colleagues are not just focused on graduating their scholars with a strong academic foundation. As a diverse by design program, BVP brings students and families together across lines of difference to address concerns of racially and socioeconomically isolated schools and communities.
- Eight Green Dot Public Schools California campuses are ranked among the top high schools in the nation. But for Cristina de Jesus, president and CEO of Green Dot California, it isn’t enough to collaborate with urban districts to unleash the tremendous potential found in schools that once were low-performing. Whether running voter registration drives to boost civic engagement or pushing to increase the minimum wage for Los Angeles workers, Cristina and her team are working toward something bigger: improving the broader communities they serve.
- As assistant superintendent of academics for the state of Louisiana, Rebecca Kockler works to build a system that delivers on the promise of high expectations for every student. Concentrating on empowering local educators, Rebecca has created a comprehensive model for teachers, principals and districts that provides unique resources and direct support, integrating assessments, curriculum, professional development and educator evaluation. Those efforts are paying off: Louisiana is one of the fastest improving states on the ACT, Advanced Placement and the National Assessment of Educational Progress exams.
- According to founder and CEO Benjamin Marcovitz, the purpose of Collegiate Academies is to demonstrate that — at any point in time, no matter what has happened in the past — all children can achieve at high levels. Indeed, 98 percent of their graduates are accepted to college, 85 percent of whom are first-generation college-goers. CA also serves a disproportionately high percentage of students with significant disabilities and behavior challenges, offering a range of services to help them graduate at rates that are twice the state average.
- Mark Murphy is the founder of GripTape, an initiative at the nonprofit America Achieves to empower youth, helping them to become drivers of their educational advancement and seize great opportunities to grow, lead and serve. Before joining America Achieves, Mark served as Delaware's secretary of education. During his tenure, K-12 academic achievement improved significantly, college course access and success rates soared, high school dropout rates reached the lowest level in history and the graduation rate grew at a record pace and to a record high.
- Born to immigrant parents with no more than elementary-level educations, Marco Roman was taught early on the value of public education. With graduate degrees in engineering and business, Marco spent 20 years improving large organizations as a researcher at MIT and as a consultant with McKinsey & Company. More recently, he helped launch and grow a software company to more than 2,000 employees in five years. Marco is now using his skills to improve school systems for other students growing up in low-income urban environments.
- In his first year as superintendent of the statewide South Carolina Public Charter School District, Elliot Smalley has a clear sense of urgency about the need for excellent public schools in South Carolina. With a relentless belief in the power of educators to help all 22,000 students they serve reach their full potential, Elliot and his team center their work on three key priorities: authorizing high-performing public charter schools, ensuring access and equity for every child and growing what works.
- Superintendent Andre Spencer of Harrison School District Two believes that all children deserve the kind of high-quality education that enables them to become productive, lifelong learners. Under his leadership, the district — which is one of the fastest improving in the state of Colorado — has focused on changing outcomes by providing opportunities, including boosting Advanced Placement course offerings and AP exam pass rates as well as implementing extended-learning opportunities as well as early college, credit recovery, one-to-one technology and math intervention programs.
- Paul Toner has dedicated his career to seeking collaborative, innovative solutions to improving public education. As executive director of Teach Plus Massachusetts, he works to elevate the voices of teachers in local, state and national education policy. As president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, Paul made the state teachers union an integral partner in developing and implementing education legislation, policy and regulations, including teacher-evaluation frameworks and learning standards. He also helped create the Massachusetts Education Partnership, a labor-management support organization focused on increasing student achievement.
- Since Nikolai Vitti was named superintendent of Duval County Public Schools in 2012, the district has expanded the arts, foreign languages, early learning, innovative school choice options and redesign, accelerated programming, mental health and progressive discipline strategies. Those efforts have helped the district reached an historic high in graduation and college readiness rates. DCPS has also surpassed all Florida urban districts in graduation rates for African-American and English-language learner students while ranking among the highest performing urban districts on the National Assessment for Education Progress.
- Jason Williams is executive director of Stand for Children Massachusetts, which helps improve schools for young people and empowers parents to take an active role in their children’s education. Jason and his team have been working aggressively to expand access to high-quality pre-kindergarten in underperforming school districts, protect the state standards and encourage development of aligned assessments and monitor implementation of state legislation designed to support professional development for teachers and ensure that school leaders have a role in deciding who teaches in their buildings.
“Progress isn’t possible without the incredible dedication of strong leaders — working shoulder-to-shoulder with educators, staff, families and communities,” said Becca Bracy Knight, executive director of The Broad Center. “These 14 Academy fellows come from a broad range of settings and experiences. The opportunities they gain from The Broad Academy to learn from and collaborate across those differences generate the kinds of results that produce life-changing outcomes for the students and communities they serve.”