Dear Friends and Colleagues:
It has been an incredible seven years since I first considered founding a nonprofit to restart and transform Massachusetts’ lowest-performing district schools. Thanks to the unparalleled talents and tireless efforts of our teachers, staff, school leaders, and partners, UP Education Network has become one of the few organizations in the United States to successfully pioneer and scale district school restart efforts, achieving unprecedented successes along the way.
As the close of the current school year draws near, I am writing today to share an important update: I have decided that it is the right time for me personally and professionally to transition out of the role as the Chief Executive Officer of the UP Education Network. I began a conversation about my thinking with the UP Board of Trustees in December 2015, and after a great deal of planning and deliberation, we believe that as our organization emerges from its foundational years and enters into its next phase of organizational maturity, it is a natural time to pass the baton to someone with the depth of experience necessary to lead the organization at its increasing scale.
During the last six years, we have achieved a lot together, including:
- UP has partnered with three different cities – including Springfield, where we’ll start UP Academy Kennedy this fall – to imagine new possibilities for schools stuck in a state of chronic underperformance;
- Our six schools, which as of this summer will serve more than 3,000 students, have demonstrated track records of student academic growth previously considered impossible – each year since 2011, at least one of our schools has been #1 in the state in academic growth for its respective grade span;
- Most importantly, we’re starting to see early, promising returns of our work, as our oldest students (those we served for just a single 8th grade year at the former Gavin Middle School in 2011-12) have recently earned college acceptances they claim would have been far less likely if the Gavin hadn’t been restarted as UP Academy Boston.
Now that we have built a strong organizational base and proven what is possible, it is the right time to identify a new leader who will take our work to the next level for the benefit of the students and families we serve. With that in mind, the UP Board of Trustees and I are excited to announce that we’ve retained Viewcrest Advisors to lead a national search, to commence immediately, for UP’s next Chief Executive Officer. I am fully committed to ensuring a smooth transition and I will remain at UP full-time until early winter 2016, laying the groundwork for a successful handoff. I have also been engaged in several months of planning and responsibility shifting with the UP Board of Trustees and my tremendous colleagues on the UP leadership team to ensure a strong, stable, and seamless transitional period.
The years ahead will be a critical time for UP to sustain and deepen its positive impact in our communities and for our scholars. Our future has never looked stronger. I know confidently that thousands of children – many whom otherwise would be attending a failing school – will benefit because of the work that our network’s teachers and leaders will pursue in the months and years ahead. Once we hire a new Chief Executive Officer, I will remain deeply connected to our organization in the Founder Emeritus role, contributing in whatever capacity may be most beneficial to UP and the communities in which we work.
Lastly, and importantly, I want to thank all of the incredible individuals who have helped to make UP what it is today: an organization humbly yet relentlessly seeking to redefine what is possible within the district context and, more importantly, an organization dedicated to sparking and unlocking the latent potential within every single extraordinary child we have been and are so honored to serve. I can’t wait to watch UP reach new heights and impact beyond what I ever could have dreamed possible when this all began in 2009.
Founder, UP Education Network