Founder and Executive Director, Springfield Prep Charter School; Age 37
Education: Bates College (BA), Pace University (MS), Brooklyn Law School (JD)
What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about ending educational inequity and closing opportunity and achievement gaps for Springfield students. All children should have access to great public schools, and this shouldn’t be dependent on whether a child grows up in an affluent city or town. I refuse to believe that, in the richest country on earth, we cannot figure out how to give all students, including our highest-needs students, an excellent education. This is the work that has motivated me since my first job out of college, when I was a public high-school teacher, and giving all kids the education they deserve is the mission our team is committed to at Springfield Prep.
Who has been your best mentor, and why? I’m lucky to have had a number of mentors I’ve learned from, not just one. As a teacher, I had a colleague, Suzette, who showed me that excellent teaching is about attention to the smallest details and about building strong relationships with students. I was fortunate enough to share a classroom with her, and my teaching improved drastically. This experience of collaboration and learning was so positive that it informed the two-teacher-per-classroom model we use at Springfield Prep. Having two teachers in every classroom helps meet students’ needs and simultaneously creates natural opportunities for mentoring and collaboration. I also worked with a principal, Elana, who taught me about the importance of having a clear, unwavering vision for excellence, and about the tenacity it requires to build a school (or any company or organization) from the ground up. The influences of Suzette and Elana are built into Springfield Prep, and I’m very grateful to them.
What will work colleagues say at your funeral? I’m glad I won’t be around to hear it! But seriously, I think they’d say I’m driven, direct and candid, and pretty intense when I’m focused on my work or believe strongly about an issue. I think they would also say I am incredibly dedicated to our students and families and will go to bat for them and our school. I’d want them to say that I’m funny, but I think that’s mostly wishful thinking.
Photography by Leah Martin Photography