Leadership from four districts across the nation join together to share the successful strategies that empower and encourage their economically disadvantaged student populations. This presentation shares their stories, where students are graduating from high school at higher rates than state averages, and persisting to college and career pathways. The session will reveal key components of their successes: activating student and teacher agency; empowering teachers with proven educational practices; Illuminating future opportunities for students; surrounding students and teachers with a supportive community. Panelists will share their experience of activating possibility for disadvantaged students by providing the access and support every student needs to succeed. The audience will learn not only how each district accelerates readiness for college and career, but also how it empowers students to think critically, collaborate, and prepare to meet the challenges that await them.
Dr. Michael Garcia is the Director of Opportunity and Achievement at Mesa Public Schools, a comprehensive urban district with a student population of more than 57,000 students and 78 schools. Prior to this role, Dr. Garcia spent eleven years as an English teacher and AVID Coordinator at Mesa High School. He holds an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Innovation from Arizona State University.
Michelle Karp is the Principal of Loomis MST Academy, a pre-K-6 Math, Science, and Technology Academy in Saginaw Public Schools serving a 93% low-SES student population. Saginaw Public Schools is a comprehensive urban school system that is home to more than 5,800 students. Prior to her return to Saginaw, Ms. Karp spent several years in Arizona as a Turnaround Principal and School Improvement Specialist.
Dr. Larry Johnson has served in Akron Public Schools for over 20 years with teaching and administrative experience in both elementary and secondary settings. Akron Public Schools is a large urban system with 47 learning centers that serve over 21,000 students in pre-K through 12th grade.
Dr. Wise is the Assistant Superintendent of a small rural district in southern Indiana with a student population of nearly 1,250. She returned to Paoli in 2019 after serving several years as an assistant principal in Okeechobee County, Florida. She was Principal of Paoli Jr./Sr. High School prior to her role as Assistant Superintendent.