Alumni Features

Dean Blase, Ed.L.D.'13, provides a container for hopes and dreams at Clark Montessori High School in Ohio

Dean Blase, Principal of Clark Montessori High School, Cincinnati, Ohio

by Alexis K. Morgan, Ed.L.D. candidate
August 16, 2017

Dean BlaseFor 7 years, Dean Blase, Ed.L.D.’13, taught English at Clark High School, the nation’s first public Montessori secondary school in Cincinnati, Ohio. She left Clark to pursue her Doctor of Education Leadership from Harvard Graduate School of Education and went on to become Assistant Superintendent for Wellesley Public Schools in Massachusetts. She returned to Clark High School where she was appointed principal in 2015. Blase is the author of several books including, Trust Me, I Can Read, a series of reflections for transforming high school students into passionate readers.


Alexis Morgan: What led you to return to Clark?

Dean Blase: Working in Wellesley was fascinating. We were implementing foreign language for all of the elementary schools and revamped the science curriculum, but frankly, it wasn’t a fit and I was hoping to make a change. When the position became available at Clark, it wasn’t clear to me that I would get it because I had never been a principal. But I was drawn to Clark because of my experiences from Massachusetts where I observed education reformers making various attempts [to improve the system] in a piecemeal fashion. Read more about Dean Blase, Ed.L.D.'13, provides a container for hopes and dreams at Clark Montessori High School in Ohio

Susan Cheng, Ed.L.D.'13 fosters a sense of belonging to promote student success

Susan Cheng, Senior Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, School of Medicine, Georgetown University

by Alexis K. Morgan, Ed.L.D. candidate
July 26, 2017

Susan ChengA child of first-generation college students, Susan Cheng learned about the struggles her father experienced when he emigrated from Hong Kong to attend college in North Carolina. Even though he would eventually graduate from college, Cheng notes that he “felt the pressures to make it in a community where he didn’t have the tools to navigate the college landscape successfully.”

 

The trials faced by her father gave impetus to Cheng’s commitment to the education sector. Her parents believed in the power of education to transform their lives and those of others around them, advocating that more education signifies a greater ability to serve communities and empower others. Throughout her career, she has fought to open doors for students from underserved communities. Her background encompasses an extensive range of experiences, including her role as a member of Washington, DC’s mayoral transition team, manager of recruitment and talent for DC Public Schools, associate partner for NewSchools Venture Fund, and a founding team member for Braven, a nonprofit that “empowers promising young people on their path to college graduation and strong first jobs.” (https://bebraven.org/). Read more about Susan Cheng, Ed.L.D.'13 fosters a sense of belonging to promote student success

Ventura Rodriguez, Ed.L.D.'15: Education is about freedom of choice

Ventura Rodriguez, Director, Office of Strategic Transformation, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

by Matthew Presser, Ed.L.D. candidate
July 19, 2017

Ventura RodriguezTwenty years ago, Ventura Rodriguez, Ed.L.D.’15, was looking for a school for his younger sister. After signing her up at a new San Francisco charter high school, he also signed up himself: as the school’s founding Spanish teacher.

 

So when Rodriguez talks about his commitment to ensuring that every Massachusetts school is good enough that he would feel comfortable sending one of his own family members, he speaks from experience.

“I wanted to build the best kind of school for my sister and for all of her friends,” said Rodriguez, who moved with his family to San Francisco from Panama when he was six. “This work has always been very personal; it wasn’t just theory.” Read more about Ventura Rodriguez, Ed.L.D.'15: Education is about freedom of choice

April Bo Wang, Ed.L.D.'16, helping kids find their voice and confidence through writing

April Bo Wang, Director of Education, 826 Boston
by Matthew Presser, Ed.L.D. candidate
July 12, 2017

April Bo WangOne of the most important lessons April Bo Wang, Ed.L.D.’16, learned about education comes not from the schools, school district office, or state capitols where she worked in the past, but instead from her office at the Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute.

It may seem like an unlikely place to learn about education until you consider that inside that institute in Roxbury, past the zombie apocalypse survival kits for sale, is 826 Boston, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center and one of seven nationwide 826 chapters housed within unusual retail stores. Wang, the Boston organization’s education director, says the playful atmosphere inspires students to fall in love with writing and has taught her the importance of what she calls “the ridiculous.” Read more about April Bo Wang, Ed.L.D.'16, helping kids find their voice and confidence through writing

Jeremiah Newell, Ed.L.D.'15, set to open the doors to the first Alabama charter school in his hometown

Jeremiah Newell, Chief Operating Officer, Mobile Area Education Foundation
by Matthew Presser, Ed.L.D. candidate
June 28, 2017

Jeremiah NewellPart-time jobs for high school students rarely last 15 years.

But for Jeremiah Newell, Ed.L.D.’15, his start at the Mobile Area Education Foundation (MAEF) as a high school junior became the launching pad to a career in education that, aside from an interlude to earn his doctorate in educational leadership at Harvard, has occurred entirely at MAEF.

At a time when it’s common for education leaders to serve short stints, Newell’s commitment to seeing long-term growth in the city where he was born is paying off. In a few months, Newell will open the doors to Accelerate Day and Evening Academy (ACCEL), Alabama’s first charter school, which he hopes will be a model for sharing innovative practices rather than fostering the type of district-charter competition that happens in many other communities. Read more about Jeremiah Newell, Ed.L.D.'15, set to open the doors to the first Alabama charter school in his hometown

Michele Shannon, Ed.L.D.'13: Leading into Learning with Boston's Chief of Schools

Michele Shannon, Chief of Schools, Boston Public Schools
by Laura Burgos, Ed.L.D. candidate
June 21, 2017

Michele ShannonWhen Michele Shannon, Ed.L.D.‘13, was asked to take on the role of Chief of Schools for Boston Public Schools (BPS), she knew the position would be critical in improving student achievement across the district and ensuring that all students were prepared for college and/or a career upon graduating. The role was the first of its kind and was designed to support the Instructional Superintendents Team tasked with developing school and teacher leaders. Having experienced completing high school ill-prepared for the demands of post-secondary education, Dr. Shannon’s charge as a leader is very much personal. Read more about Michele Shannon, Ed.L.D.'13: Leading into Learning with Boston's Chief of Schools

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