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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Turnaround expert to take over at troubled Clinton High School

By Sarina Trangle

Santiago Taveras, a Bronx native who rose through the ranks of the Department of Education to serve as deputy chancellor for community engagement and then took a consulting job, is returning to city schools to lead DeWitt Clinton High School.

Mr. Taveras said he missed working directly with students as he took on administrative roles and sought out ways to get his “kid fix.” As deputy chancellor at the Department of Education, he “adopted” a group of five boys at IS 49 as mentees; more recently, as vice president for district reform at the Cambridge Education consulting firm, Mr. Taveras was overjoyed when a colleague went on maternity leave and he filled in for her at an alternative high school in Connecticut.

Mr. Taveras started his 22-year career at the DOE as a teacher in Spanish Harlem, before going on to found Banana Kelly High School and Urban Assembly Academy for Careers in Sports, oversee the Division of Teaching and Learning, serve as the senior supervising superintendent of all boroughs and ascend to deputy chancellor. He left in 2011 and began consulting educators on how to improve poorly performing schools. 

The John F. Kennedy High School alumnus decided to return to the borough as a principal when he teared-up at a job interview for a New Jersey superintendent position while recalling how he helped 10 struggling boys graduate decades ago. 

“I’ve worked two years doing turnaround on the East Coast and now it’s time to come back home to the Bronx, where I was born and raised to do that kind of work,” he said.

Though his contract doesn’t begin until July 1, Mr. Taveras met with faculty and students last week. He said he would spend the summer months getting acclimated, preparing to implement the city’s new teacher evaluation system and ensuring lessons are aligned with Common Core standards. He is slated to assume the principal position when Geraldine Ambrosio retires at the end of August.

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