Hartford Schools Appoint New Chief Academic Officer
By VANESSA DE LA TORRE
March 22, 2012
HARTFORD —— The school system's next chief academic officer will be Carole Collins Ayanlaja, an administrator in Sioux City, Iowa.
Ayanlaja has been Sioux City's director of curriculum and assessment since 2010 and previously served as a principal in the elementary, middle and high school levels in Illinois. Her teaching career began in Chicago in 1993
The school board approved Ayanlaja's appointment this week. She starts July 1 with a $150,000 salary.
Superintendent Christina Kishimoto pointed out Ayanlaja's "extensive experience with urban school districts" when introducing her to the board. Ayanlaja will replace Penny MacCormack, who left in October to become the chief academic officer for the New Jersey Department of Education and was a major figure in the reform effort under former Superintendent Steven Adamowski.
Leslyee Frederick has been serving as Hartford's interim chief academic officer.
"We had a very long search process," Kishimoto said. "It was important for me to get an integral piece as part of our team at the cabinet level, in academics and in school management."
Sioux City's enrollment is close to 14,000, and Ayanjala said Latinos comprise nearly 30 percent. What drew her to Hartford, she said, was "the opportunity to serve in a mid-sized urban district that is ... committed to progressively and aggressively changing the lives of children of diverse backgrounds."
Ayanjala cited Hartford's "portfolio" of neighborhood and magnet schools; principal autonomy; the focus on teacher development in the coming years; and Kishimoto's specific initiatives, such as the Third Grade Promise to have children reading at grade level by the time they complete third grade.
In 2004, Ayanlaja was the founding principal of the Applied Arts, Science and Technology Academy at Orr High School in Chicago. Orr, a low-performing high school, was divided into academies with seed money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Ayanjala is a doctoral candidate in educational policy and administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and holds a master's degree in urban teaching from Concordia University.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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