Longtime superintendents Ann Clark and Valeria Silva join NYC Leadership Academy staff

September 26, 2017

Successful former district superintendents Ann Clark and Valeria Silva will bring their expertise and experience to the NYC Leadership Academy as superintendents in residence over the 2017-18 school year.

Ann Clark brings to the Leadership Academy 34 years of experience in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district in North Carolina, from teacher to superintendent. As a district administrator, she implemented policies that would directly address inequities across the district. She innovated around staffing, making sure the lowest performing schools had the most effective educators and leaders. To change the disproportionality of students of color being suspended and arrested, she partnered with the police, juvenile justice system, schools, and families. She also led the district and community conversation that ultimately changed the way students were assigned to schools and reduced high concentrations of students of poverty in many schools.

During her seven years as superintendent of the St. Paul Public Schools in Minnesota, Valeria Silva led courageous conversations about racial inequities, and ultimately changed the district’s practice of isolating special education students, integrating them into general education classrooms. She also worked to implement policies and practices that would reduce the disproportionate suspension rates for students of color. Silva spent 32 years in the district, starting as a bilingual teacher. 

“Ann and Valeria have been longtime leaders in the critical and difficult work of ensuring schools are offering an equitable and excellent education to students, regardless of race or culture, economic background or learning needs,” Leadership Academy President & CEO Irma Zardoya said. “We and the districts we work with have so much to learn from them, and we are honored to have them on our team.”

As the Leadership Academy’s inaugural superintendents in residence, Clark and Silva will advise the organization on its leadership programming and tools as it moves to expand its leadership development and school system capacity building work. The superintendents will also share their experiences as leaders for educational equity with educators across the country.

“Work around equity can no longer be considered courageous,” Clark said. “It has to happen, and it has to shift from random acts of good intentions to systemic change. That takes strong, committed, visionary leadership. The Leadership Academy truly is a leader in educational equity, and I am thrilled to join their team.”

Said Silva, “I have devoted my career to making sure every child gets the educational opportunities he or she needs to fulfill their potential. Working with the Leadership Academy will allow me to share what I have learned about what works and how to navigate the challenges involved in dismantling inequities in schools.”

The NYC Leadership Academy also welcomes Boston Public School’s former Chief of Schools Michele Shannon to its staff. A graduate of the Leadership Academy’s second cohort of Aspiring Principals, Shannon will design curriculum and facilitate the learning of school- and system-level leaders, leveraging her deep knowledge in adult learning, systems-thinking, data-driven leadership, and turnaround leadership. As Boston’s Chief of Schools, Shannon led a team of Instructional Superintendents focused on eliminating the opportunity gaps. They developed a coherent system of professional learning in the district, creating a culture of collaboration and thought partnership and ensuring better support for school leaders. Shannon has been a teacher, school social worker, assistant principal, and principal in New York City. She also led the leadership development and evaluation team in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She holds a Doctorate in Education Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

“Michele knows first-hand that leaders build leaders—high-quality, continuous, and job-embedded capacity building drives the work forward,” Leadership Academy Chief Strategy Officer Nancy Gutierrez said. “We are confident that educational leaders across the country will benefit from Michele’s experience and keen insights about what it means to match strategy to practice.”

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