“At Democracy Prep we believe that growth matters most. If that’s true, it cannot just be about size, but it’s got to be true about quality. ”
– Katie Duffy, CEO Democracy Prep Public Schools
Leader U drives Democracy Prep’s holistic and rigorous pursuit of growth in quality as well as size. The alumni listed below make that growth possible. See why they have a passion for school leadership and how Leader U helped them reach their goals.
Within my first weeks in the classroom as a 2007 Teach For America corps member, I knew that education for me was a life-long career. The desire to build my capacity as a teacher and a leader led me to Democracy Prep. In July of 2011 I started my Leader U fellowship, and on August 24, 2012, my staff and I welcomed 112 sixth grade scholars as the founding class of Democracy Prep Endurance, a task that just one year before seemed incredibly daunting and almost unimaginable. However, after my year in the fellowship I was truly ready to run a high-performing and game-changing school for scholars in Central Harlem.
When I first started teaching at-risk students in 2002 in Providence, RI, I knew I would be an educator for life. While I loved my time in Providence, I soon realized I was teaching in a broken system. After earning a Master’s in Educational Leadership at Simmons College in 2011, I joined the most amazing team of people as the Assistant Principal at Democracy Prep Charter High School. Since then, I have developed rapidly as a leader as a result of my experiences in the Leader U program. This training has been invaluable to me as I constantly observed exemplary schools and no-nonsense school leaders dedicated to disciplined action in service of their school mission. I now spend my days fostering a nerd culture and coaching teachers to do everything necessary to drive the achievement of our scholars as they move on the path to and through college.
After participating in a summer teaching initiative in New Orleans during college, I became inspired to work in schools, realizing that there is no other place as full of joy, challenge, and purpose as a school. I joined Teach for America after graduating from Duke University, and had the great fortune of receiving placement at Democracy Prep Charter High School as a special education teacher in writing, math, and literature. My time working with high need students and their families exposed me to the incredible challenge of completing high school with learning difficulties and inspired me to participate in Leader U. After completing a two-year track, I served as the Leader U Fellow at Democracy Prep Harlem High School for the fall of 2014 and then moved to serve as the school leader of Freedom Prep High School in Camden, New Jersey. I believe deeply that all children can work hard, go to college, and certainly change the world, and that the latter value of Democracy Prep is essential in fostering a deep and lasting impact. I am particularly excited about tackling the challenges that no excuses high schools face as they learn to best navigate young adulthood, the college process, and the steps to graduation.