Person of the Year: Shawn Joseph, Ed.D.

Dr. Shawn Joseph

NASHVILLE, TN — Former Metro Nashville Public Schools Director, Dr. Shawn Joseph, accepted a tenure track position at Howard University’s School of Education. He will also co-direct the Howard/AASA Urban Superintendent Academy.  According to a 2018 news release, the program was created in direct response to less than five percent of superintendents in America being persons of color. 

Under Dr. Joseph’s leadership, Metro Nashville Public Schools saw reading achievement accelerated for all students, increased ACT scores, more students of all races in gifted and talented programs, more students earning advanced placement credits, more students earned industry certifications, and more money being directed to the district’s poorest schools resulting in a dramatic increase in state reward schools.

Dr. Joseph shared, “As the first African American superintendent in Seaford Delaware and Metro Nashville Public Schools, I intimately understand the difficulty of ensuring excellence in every classroom, in every school, every day in urban settings and settings that serve large populations of students of color.  I also understand  the complexities of leading while Black. Superintendents of color have unique challenges as we are often tapped to lead high needs districts where millions of underserved students of color need a high-quality education and where resources are scarce. It takes skill, courage, and an unconquerable spirit to improve outcomes under these conditions.”  These lessons were described in his most recent book Finding the Joseph Within.

Dr. Joseph continued, “The Howard University/AASA Urban School Superintendent partnership is one of the few places in the country leaders interested in understanding the complexities of leading urban schools can align themselves with national thought leaders from around the country to plan, collaborate, and prepare to act.  Howard’s research prowess and expertise dealing with urban issues and issues within the African American community, combined with AASA’s network of thought partners, give us the ability to tackle the realities and possibilities of the urban superintendent position better than most places in the country.”

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, two Marshall Scholars, one Schwarzman Scholar, over 70 Fulbright Scholars and 22 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States.

AASA, the School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA, The School Superintendents Association advocates for equitable access for all students to the highest quality public education, and develops and supports school system leaders.

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