Julie Jackson Named Uncommon Schools President


Uncommon Schools named award-winning educator Julie Jackson as president, a new position at the non-profit charter organization that manages 24 high-performing schools in Brooklyn.

As President, Jackson will oversee all K-12 instruction and operations at schools as well as the organization’s groundbreaking Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work. The move is effective July 1. Jackson becomes one of the highest-ranking African-Americans at a large charter management organization.

Jackson started her Uncommon Schools career as one of its first teachers over 20 years ago and is currently Chief Schools Officer, K-8. She is considered a master teacher trainer, having trained thousands of teachers around the world. Her vision for great schools is what led Oprah Winfrey to ask her in 2000 to help open the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa and to become a board member of the school.

Uncommon Schools has gained the praise of elected officials for its positive collaboration with the NYC Department of Education which has involved hundreds of district teachers as well as for its commitment to increase the numbers of teachers of color in its schools.  Over 50% of Uncommon teachers are teachers of color, more than twice the national average of less than 20%.

“We are proud that our young scholars can look to our leadership and continue to see themselves reflected at the highest levels,” said Brett Peiser, CEO of Uncommon Schools.

Newly Named Uncommon Schools President Julie Jackson greets students in the classroom. Contributed Photo.

In public education circles nationally, Jackson is renowned for her ability to lead schools to huge student achievement gains. Under her leadership, schools with students predominantly from low-income backgrounds have consistently outperformed their wealthier counterparts. Nearly 80% of Uncommon Schools graduates have either graduated from college or are on track to do so, one of the highest college completion and persistence rates among any public school system in the country. By contrast, fewer than 15% of low-income students graduate from college in the U.S.

Jackson focuses her teacher training on the love that teachers must have for every child— “seeing” the child for exactly who they are and who they will become. Said Jackson, “You cannot teach if you do not love every child in front of you.”

From that foundation of love comes a focus on getting to know students as individuals. “If you know them, you can inspire them and if you inspire them, you can play a role in their trajectory,” Jackson said. “If they trust you, then you can push them beyond what they think is possible.”

Many best-selling teacher and school leader training books contain examples of Jackson’s meticulous planning for each lesson when she was a teacher, techniques that she has since taught to thousands of educators. Authors have noted that Jackson used her drive to work to memorize the questions she would ask during her lessons, as well as to anticipate wrong answers and what her response should be. This allowed her to deliver lessons while also watching every move inside the classroom. “Legend has it that there has never been a student who has done something in her classroom without Julie’s seeing it,” read one book.

Succeeding Jackson as Chief Schools Officer K-8 will be Juliana Worrell, currently an Uncommon Schools Assistant Superintendent overseeing Brooklyn and Newark elementary schools for Uncommon Schools. Worrell is a national literacy expert and co-authored Great Habits, Great Readers with Paul Bambrick-Santoyo. She trains hundreds of teachers and school leaders a year across the country in those literacy techniques. She started with North Star Academy as a teacher in 2007 and went on to serve as principal of three different schools, including founding principal of North Star Academy Alexander Street Elementary, Uncommon’s first turnaround school.  

Bambrick-Santoyo, who trains school leaders not only within Uncommon but worldwide, will continue his leadership as Chief Schools Officer 9-12 and K-12 Content Development.

Uncommon Schools is a network of 53 high-performing K-12 charter schools whose mission is to ensure students enter into, succeed in and graduate from college. Uncommon Schools serves 19,000 students in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

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