Equity & Diversity

Leaders Tell of Supporting Families, Engaging Students, Inspiring Black Boys

By Evie Blad — March 17, 2015 2 min read
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It’s an exciting time for us here at Education Week. Tomorrow we welcome 16 exceptional district-level leaders to Washington to swap ideas and share stories in our Leaders to Learn From event.

If you haven’t already, you should check out our whole special report. In a rush? Here’s my cheat sheet of a few featured leaders who will be of particular interest to readers concerned about student engagement and child well-being. Click through to read their stories and watch videos about their work.

Patricia A. Spradley
Chief Parent and Community Engagement Officer, Springfield Public Schools, Springfield, Mass.

Spradley launched a parent’s academy that offers a host of practical and fun classes on subjects like helping children apply to college, managing a family budget, and knitting. The program, which draws heavily on community support, helps strengthen parents’ connections to schools and builds their capacity to support their children.

Vickie Reed
Superintendent, Murray County Schools, Chatsworth, Ga.

Reed uses student voice to drive decisions in the district. She collects surveys on students’ perceptions of their classroom experiences, and seeks students’ opinions on everything from cafeteria food to school safety. And, in a move that would make some school leaders nervous, she invites students to present the annual state of the schools address to the community.

Christopher Chatmon
Executive Director, Office of African-American Male Achievement, Oakland Unified School District, Oakland, Calif.

Chatmon helped launched a trailblazing program to rewrite the story for African-American boys in Oakland. The program recruits influential men to mentor cohorts of students in the district’s Manhood Development Program classes, weighs in on how the district’s decisions in all areas will affect African-American male students, and supports a professional learning community where teachers learn about the needs, strengths, and misconceptions about African-American boys in Oakland.

Tiffany Anderson
Superintendent, Jennings School District, Jennings, Mo.

Anderson uses the community schools model to help meet even the most basic needs of her students and their families. The district runs a food pantry that is stocked by students and available to their parents. Anderson had washers and dryers installed in each school, worked with a community organization to provide free coats to students who need them, and converted unused space into a school-based clinic.

Want to learn more? Read the full report and view all of the videos here. Or register to watch a livestream of Wednesday’s event.

Do you know of district-level leaders we should recognize in 2016? Nominate them right now!

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.