Leadership in Education

M. René Islas Joins Leading Educators as Chief External Relations Officer

CONTACT:
Adan Garcia
Associate Director of Communications
(202) 510-0827
marketing@leadingeducators.org

M. RENÉ ISLAS JOINS LEADING EDUCATORS AS CHIEF EXTERNAL RELATIONS OFFICER

Islas will oversee a strategy to expand districts’ access to supports and resources for improving teaching at scale

WASHINGTON, DC - March 26, 2019

M. René Islas, who has been a lifelong champion of expanding educational opportunities for all students, joins Leading Educators as the organization’s new Chief External Relations Officer (CERO), CEO Chong-Hao Fu announced.

The grandson of a school principal, Islas remembers learning the value of education from around the time he could talk.  “My grandfather taught me that in order for students to learn the content they need to pursue their dreams, they need strong relationships with skillful teachers who care about them and believe in the great things their students will achieve.  Throughout my career, I’ve been driven by a commitment to create the best school environments where teachers and their students will thrive,” Islas shared.

Islas has spent much of his career navigating the government, nonprofit, and consulting sectors to build coalitions of support around the issues most critical to advancing educational equity.  Most recently, he was the Executive Director of the National Association for Gifted Children where he led efforts to increase public awareness, change policies, and improve educator practice in support of advanced learners, especially the most vulnerable students who are historically underrepresented in gifted and talented programs through initiatives including the Giftedness Knows No Boundaries campaign.  Previously, he served as the Senior Vice President at Learning Forward, a nonprofit education association focused on building the capacity of leaders to establish and sustain effective professional learning, and as Chief of Staff for the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education in the U.S. Department of Education.  As CERO, Islas will lead a robust strategy to expand supports for districts and teachers to eradicate within-school equity gaps in pursuit of universal college and career readiness.             

“René brings a wealth of leadership expertise to our team, and he has helped make big things happen throughout his career to advance student outcomes by improving access to excellent educational opportunities.  Whether it was leading a coalition to create the Teacher Incentive Fund within the U.S. Department of Education by the U.S. Congress or launching thriving consulting businesses at Learning Forward and B&D Consulting, René has taken on innovative leadership challenges that have contributed to the broader education sector,” Fu shared.

“I am excited to join the powerful team at Leading Educators that is reinventing professional learning to support effective teaching for students from all backgrounds,” said Islas about the work ahead.

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About Leading Educators

Leading Educators is reinventing professional development for teachers, igniting the potential for exponential impact in schools and across districts.  We partner with states, districts, and public charter networks to design content-based learning and support structures that create the conditions for continuous improvements in teaching across their schools--helping teachers reach better, more equitable student outcomes.  www.leadingeducators.org

Learning and Practicing Strategies to Improve Instruction with DCPS

In mid-July, approximately 600 educators and school leaders from throughout Washington, DC spent two weeks learning and practicing strategies to improve instruction in schools throughout the city. This intensive effort is part of the District of Columbia Public Schools’ (DCPS) LEAP (LEarning together to Advance our Practice) initiative, and it represents a focus on growing teachers’ leadership capacity within classrooms, throughout schools, and across the entire district.

"I learned so much and developed my capacity as a teacher leader. After these two weeks, I feel more confident in the transformation in our students and teachers that LEAP is going to inspire, and feel more secure in my ability to help lead this work as a teacher leader. I am excited for this year!"

Leading Educators worked in close partnership with DCPS to provide the content and expertise needed to design a tailor-made professional development experience for teacher and school leaders from 115 schools. Over the course of two weeks, participants focused on common core content development, pedagogy for literacy and math instruction, planning for implementation, and equity and leadership.  

"This has been one of the most enriching PDs that I have ever experienced. The videos, the exercises, the culture building activities, the learning and sharing protocols were all very beneficial."

LEAP also marked a significant milestone for Leading Educators. While our focus has gradually evolved over the past five years from working with individual teacher leaders from a number of unrelated schools, to supporting teams of teachers who come from the same school, LEAP pushed our engagement even further. Our partnership with DCPS represents the first time that Leading Educators has brought its model of inquiry, practice, and development to teams of school and teacher leaders throughout an entire school district.

This represents a new phase for our work and the large-scale impact that it can have on student achievement. We are excited to build on this new approach, and look forward to the opportunity to continue to partner with DCPS and other districts around the country that recognize the power of teacher leadership to drive instructional and academic excellence.

DCPS Riding the Wave of Teacher Leadership

Leading Educators' Statement on the Connection Between Teacher Leadership & Race in America

We here at Leading Educators are deeply saddened by the violence that took place over the past week in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas. The senseless deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the 5 police officers in Dallas only underscore the deep racial divide that continues to plague our communities and, ultimately, our democracy.

The Drive to Teach & Lead

When I drive, I think about my own mortality. Although I’m not typically a nervous person, I still realize how easy it would be to get hurt or killed while in my car. When I first had those thoughts, I wondered what the impact would be if I died right then. I got this strange pleasure knowing that I was a good enough person that my family and my friends would be heartbroken...

CEO Jonas Chartock on LEI 2016: Leading from the Core

This summer, we are doing something different and extremely exciting in New Orleans: the Leading Educators Institute 2016 is now open to educators everywhere.

CEO Jonas Chartock on "A False Choice"

We’re looking for our first VP of Storytelling & Development in Leading Educators’ 5-year history. I’ve been reflecting on what this role will mean for our organization, why we believe diversity and equity is so important and why I am excited about where we’re headed.

  • This is our moment to tell our story + shape the narrative.  We’ve proven that when given access to skill development and the right leadership roles, teacher leaders increase student achievement, remain in their schools longer than their peers and develop leadership skills that ignite whole school transformation. Our new VP of Storytelling will re-imagine our story, help us tell it and then ensure it quickly spreads throughout the world.
  • The choice between diversity + excellence is false. Diversity is the very means to excellence. I still have conversations with colleagues in the field who are not talking about the business case for diversity and equity. The facts are that diverse teams perform at higher rates than non-diverse teams and the research that shows women often outperform men yet women are not represented in senior leadership. Without diversity and equity, Leading Educators cannot grow from 1,000 Teacher Leaders to 10,000; from serving 200 schools to 2 million students or move from raising $6 million to $20 million over the next three years.
  • If you browse our website, you might note that there are fewer senior leaders of color. You might interpret this fact to mean we do not think a senior leader of color can be successful here. It does not. It means we have significant work to do and we will not shy away from it. We are happy to talk to you personally about what we’re doing to work on this. Studies also show that men often apply for jobs when they only meet 60 percent of the qualifications for a senior role. Women wait until they meet 100 percent. Please do not wait. Please put yourself and others forward.
  • We’re just getting started. Ninety percent (90%) of principals with a Fellow said that our teachers have had a positive impact on their school. In 5 years, we’ve expanded into new regions and nearly 100% of our Fellows remain in education and continue to assume greater leadership and impact within their schools.

Our inaugural VP of Storytelling & Development arrives to a learning organization whose intent is to expand its impact. To learn more, reach out to Ify Offor Walker  or me directly.

Here’s to the next phase and seeing you aboard the teacher leader rocket ship!