Distinguished former superintendents head Broad Superintendents Academy

LOS ANGELES — The Broad Superintendents Academy today announced that two retired leading superintendents credited with achieving significant student gains in Boston and Norfolk, Virginia, over the last decade have been named “superintendents-in-residence.”

Dr. Thomas Payzant — a former superintendent in Boston, San Diego, Oklahoma City, Eugene, Oregon, and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania — and Dr. John Simpson — a former superintendent in Norfolk, Virginia, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and North Chicago — are now key advisors to The Broad Superintendents Academy, an executive management program to prepare prominent leaders from education, military, business, nonprofit and government sectors to lead urban public school systems. In this role, Simpson and Payzant will facilitate professional development sessions for academy participants, provide practical advice, insights and mentoring and serve as executive coaches to alumni who have taken leadership positions in large urban districts.

“John Simpson and Tom Payzant’s impressive track records in raising urban student achievement for all students make them ideal coaches to prepare future superintendents,” said Becca Bracy Knight, executive director of The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems, which operates The Broad Superintendents Academy. “Our participants and staff are fortunate to have access to their deep wisdom and in-the-trenches experience.”

The Broad Superintendents Academy is the only program in the country that recruits talented superintendent candidates from sectors outside of public education as well as stand-out career educators. Participants of the academy attend extended weekend sessions while keeping their full-time jobs. The academy then helps place graduates in urban school districts and also provides extensive on-the-job support. Since the program started in 2002, graduates have filled 54 superintendent positions and 73 senior school district executive positions.

Broad-trained superintendents who have led a district for three or more testing cycles are outperforming comparison groups in raising student achievement in reading and math.

Simpson was named “State Superintendent of the Year” in 2004 by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents for his leadership as superintendent of Norfolk Public Schools from 1998 to 2004. Under his tenure, achievement gaps between minority and majority students in Norfolk narrowed, all student groups made significant strides towards full state accreditation under the Virginia Standards of Learning, and the district received the 2005 Broad Prize for Urban Education. Simpson went on to serve as district alliance program director for the Stupski Foundation.

Payzant currently serves as a professor of practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. During 11 years as superintendent of Boston Public Schools, from 1995 to 2006, the school district consistently outperformed other Massachusetts districts with similar low-income populations and demonstrated greater improvement by African-American students than similar Massachusetts districts. As a result, the district won the 2006 Broad Prize for Urban Education. Payzant previously was appointed U.S. assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education by President William J. Clinton in 1993.

Biographies and photos are available upon request.

As superintendents-in-residence, Simpson and Payzant will also advise the academy on curriculum design and will participate in recruitment and selection activities for future cohorts. They follow in the footsteps of the academy’s first superintendent-in-residence, Arlene Ackerman, who held the role from 2007-2008 before being appointed superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia.

Simpson holds a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s degree in vocal pedagogy from West Chester State University in Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in educational leadership and curriculum development from the University of Delaware, and a doctorate in educational policy, planning and administration from the University of Michigan. Payzant received his bachelor’s degree in American history and literature from Williams College and his master’s degree in teaching and doctorate in education from Harvard University.

The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems is a nonprofit dedicated to raising student achievement by recruiting, preparing and supporting executive talent from across America to become the next generation of urban school district leaders. The Center runs two executive development programs: The Broad Superintendents Academy and The Broad Residency in Urban Education. The Broad Center is funded by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, established by entrepreneur and philanthropist Eli Broad to advance entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science and the arts.

Recent Content

Alumni Guest Series

Helping Graduating Students Meet the Challenge of the Pandemic Economy

Daniel Gray August 24, 2020
Alumni Guest Series

Alumni Spotlight: Wendy Robinson

Wendy Robinson June 8, 2020