We successfully advocated for greater funding and a stronger focus on school leadership in federal laws and regulations
We helped states develop regulations and principal evaluation models that strengthen intructional leadership, talent management, and school culture
We successfully supported bipartisan Congressional efforts to make school leadership a priority in the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act
We have worked with universities, associations, and research organizations to bolster principal preparation programs
Jessica Nauiokas is the founding principal of Mott Haven Academy Charter School, the nation’s first school dedicated to serving students in the child welfare system. Two-thirds of Haven students are in foster care or receiving preventive services, and 20 percent of students are homeless.
When Nauiokas created Haven, she knew its students would need a nurturing school environment, but she placed equal focus on academics: Today, Haven students significantly outperform their peers citywide on state reading and math tests.
Nauiokas brought this perspective to the U.S. Department of Education as a 2015-2016 Principal Ambassador Fellow. Working with federal policymakers, she advocated for programming to better serve at-risk students, including children who have experienced trauma and homelessness, those who have been incarcerated, and those with special learning needs.
“As an urban educator, I am a strong advocate for ensuring that schools are set up to support kids’ social and emotional needs.”
When Alison Welcher took the helm of Ranson IB Middle School in Charlotte, she knew dramatic improvements were needed to catch struggling students up to grade level. She immediately implemented a schoolwide coaching model, empowering her best teachers to support colleagues to similar success. Two years later, the school’s gains were among the fastest growing in North Carolina.
Welcher exemplifies a key lesson New Leaders has learned from its alumni: successful principals never lead alone. By sharing her experiences in Breakthrough Principals: A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Stronger Schools, Welcher has inspired principals across the country to value and invest in teacher leadership.
Today, Welcher is a doctoral student at Harvard Graduate School of Education, serves on New Leaders’ Policy Advisory Committee, and she recently testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
“We had proof that we could take excellent teachers and elevate them to coach other teachers without pushback. People were hungry for feedback. It was good for them and good for our kids.”
As a new principal at John Burroughs Elementary School, Aqueelha James applied a key lesson she learned as a biotechnology teacher at her high-performing former school: provide great instruction and high-level content, and students will meet the challenge.
James worked with teachers to introduce a rigorous STEM-focused curriculum and ensure lessons moved all students forward. Under her leadership, Burroughs was designated a “rising” school.
As a member of the New Leaders Policy Advisory Committee, James has advocated for maintaining annual federal assessment requirements in the recently authorized Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), with accountability focused on student growth. James was also selected to represent principals’ perspectives on the negotiated rulemaking committee as it develops proposed regulations for Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
“Being able to compare my students in an ‘apples-to-apples’ way with children across town and the country enables me to say with conviction: Yes, we are preparing our kids for the future!”
When David O’Hara became principal of Brooklyn’s Expeditionary Learning School for Community Leaders in 2011, only two of 50 seniors were on track to graduate. Four years later, 82 percent of seniors graduated on schedule, and three-quarters were college bound. O’Hara credits this turnaround to careful cultivation of teacher leaders in his school.
Studying successful principals like O’Hara inspired New Leaders to expand its program portfolio to support teacher leaders and instructional teams. His story was also featured in Untapped: Transforming Teacher Leadership to Help Students Succeed.
Today, O’Hara serves on New Leaders’ Policy Advisory Committee, and he has shared his perspectives with Obama Administration officials and as a TeachStrong Ambassador. He recently relocated to the Bay Area, where he intends to continue working in educational leadership.
"All teachers deserve a principal who has the skills to help them grow, advance, and get results for kids.”