Administrator Magazine
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This Month's Profile

Dr. Arlene Ackerman's ambitious plans for the School District of Philadelphia.

March/April 2009

AGE: 62

ON THE JOB: Since June 2008

EDUCATION: B.A. from Harris-Stowe Teachers College; M.A. in educational administration from Washington University, St. Louis; M.A. in education from Harvard University; Ed.D. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

EXPERIENCE: Former teacher and principal; deputy superintendent, Seattle; superintendent, D.C. public schools and San Francisco Unified School District; superintendent in residence, Broad Superintendents Academy; director of the Urban Education Leaders Program at Columbia University Teachers College.




INSPIRATION: “My dad was a minister and my mom was a teacher. They taught the three R’s: responsibility, self-reliance, and results. It’s how I’ve lived my life.”

MANAGEMENT STYLE: “I’m a collaborative leader. There are times when I have to be more directive, and there are times when I follow. I look for the shared vision and work toward a common goal.”

GUIDING BELIEF: “To give other people’s children what I would want for my own four granddaughters.”

PLAN FOR PHILLY: “To take a district that’s been making modest progress and accelerate it by focusing on three things: increasing achievement for all groups of students regardless of race, economic status, or where they live; ensuring the equitable allocation of all district resources; and holding all of our adults accountable for student results.”

ADVICE: “Be bold. Don’t be afraid to take a risk for the children’s sake. Perhaps the way we’ve always done it is not the way we need to do it in the future.”

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