U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced the names of three principals selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Education's first Principal Ambassador Fellows (PAFs) program. They are:
Sharif El-Mekki, Mastery Charter School - Shoemaker Campus, Philadelphia, Pa.;
Jill Levine, Normal Park Museum Magnet, Chattanooga, Tenn.; and,
Rachel Skerritt, Eastern Senior High School, Washington, DC.
The principals will serve from now until August 2014 as part-time employees to lend the perspective of school principals to the work of the Department. As the first PAFs, they will also help design the fellowship program for future participants.
"Each year I have the opportunity to visit schools and meet with leaders across the country who are committed to improving educational outcomes for our nation's students," said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. "Principals are a linchpin in the effort to improve student success and raise achievement at any scale, and I look forward to working with the 2013 Principal Ambassador Fellows to continue a thoughtful conversation on the best ways to sustain and support school leaders for the long haul. Their firsthand knowledge of the challenges principals face will help shape policy and programs across the country to better prepare our nation's children for college and career."
Beginning today, the PAFs are participating in a two-day summit at the Department's headquarters in Washington, DC to become more familiar with federal education policy and Department staff, as well as to begin exchanging ideas for enhancing communication between school and education policy leaders.
Launched last February, the PAF program was created in recognition of the vital role principals play in every aspect of a school's success – from instruction to the school environment to staff performance -- and to better connect their expertise and talent with education policymakers. The principal fellows, in turn, will have the opportunity to lend their perspective on the best ways to implement policies at the school level and engage local communities in the outcomes.
Principals El-Mekki, Levine, and Skerritt were selected from a pool of over 450 applicants who serve in a wide variety of traditional public and charter schools, as well as alternative and private schools. Applications came from principals in nearly every state working in a range of urban, rural and suburban settings. The Principal Ambassador Fellowship program will complement and build on the benefits of the Department's Teaching Ambassador Fellowship, now in its sixth year.