Education Secretary Arne Duncan Announces Four Principal Ambassador Fellows for the 2015-16 School Year

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Education Secretary Arne Duncan Announces Four Principal Ambassador Fellows for the 2015-16 School Year

September 15, 2015

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced the names of four principals to be the Department’s Principal Ambassador Fellows for the 2015-2016 school year, in addition to nine teachers as 2015-2016 Teaching Ambassador Fellows. One principal will serve as a full-time Washington Fellow, while three will work part-time as Campus Principal Ambassadors in addition to their leadership in their districts.

“The inaugural class of Principal Ambassador Fellows made tremendous contributions to our work at the Department,” said Duncan. “I am excited to work with this new team to bring attention to the essential role of great school leaders in creating great school environments for students. We must do more to recognize our school principals and their work, especially on behalf of students coming from some of the most challenging circumstances.”

The four school leaders chosen as the 2015 Principal Ambassador Fellows are:

  • Alicia Pérez-Katz, the principal of Baruch College Campus High School in New York City, who will reside as the 2015 Washington Principal Ambassador Fellow
  • Joseph Manko, the principal of Liberty Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Jessica Nauoikas, the founder and principal of Mott Haven Academy Charter School, also in New York City
  • Christopher Pearson, the Superintendent of Conway School District in Mt. Vernon, Washington. As the new head of this small rural district, Mr. Pearson will retain some of the duties of principal.

The Department launched the Principal Ambassador Fellowship in 2013 to build on the successes of its sister effort, the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship Program. Like the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship, the Principal program invites outstanding principals to gain in-depth knowledge of national policy issues in education and to contribute their expertise to those discussions. The role is a paid position in which Fellows, in turn, share what they’ve learned with principals across the country, facilitating their understanding of federal initiatives and gaining their input into policy and programs designed to improve education at all levels.

In their role as the first cohort of Principal Ambassador Fellows, Washington Fellow Jill Levine, and part-time Fellows, Sharif El-Mekki, and Rachel Skerritt, worked to shape the Department’s understanding of the myriad roles played by principals as instructional leaders, building managers and community builders in their schools and districts. Working collaboratively with associations representing principals, the Principal Ambassador Fellows created opportunities like Principal Shadowing and Principals at ED to highlight the unique perspectives and needs of principals that should be considered in tandem with, but distinct from, the great teachers they must hire and lead.

The 2015 Principal Ambassador Fellows have met with Secretary Duncan, previous year Fellows and other key Department staff in order to prepare for their role and will launch their outreach during this year’s sixth annual Back to School Bus Tour and Principal Appreciation Month in October.