Valeria Silva

“I believe that superintendents have to be courageous on issues of race and equity, and the English-learner achievement gap is one of those issues. The responsibility of English-learners does not just belong to the academic department. It belongs to everyone.”
— Jenn Ackerman for Education Week
— Jenn Ackerman for Education Week
Focus of Strength:English-Learner Education
Position:Superintendent
District:St. Paul Public Schools, Minn.

Few top-tier school administrators can claim as high a level of intimacy with the education of English-language learners as Valeria Silva, the superintendent of the school system in St. Paul, Minn.

A native of Chile, Silva, 51, spoke no English when she first came to Minnesota in the late 1980s to help take care of her sister’s children for a few months. More than 25 years later, the woman who still calls herself a second-language learner and at times consults the dictionary to look up unfamiliar words has risen to lead the state’s second-largest district, where 45 percent of the 39,000 students are English-learners.

“Her personal background, as a woman, a Latina, and a second-language learner, makes her quite unique in the field,” says Verónica Rivera, the executive director of the Association of Latino Administrators and Supervisors, or ALAS, based in Washington. “Those are incredible assets for leading a district like St. Paul.”

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2015 Agenda

7:15 a.m.–8:00 a.m.
Networking Breakfast
Join for breakfast with leaders who work in the fields of most interest to you. There’ll be tables for parent engagement, school climate, ed tech, and more!

8:00 a.m.–8:25 a.m.
Welcome, Introductions, and Recognition Presentation
Recognition of the work of 8 of the 15—2015 Leaders To Learn From selected by Education Week.

8:25 a.m.–8:40 a.m.
Breakouts—Meet the Leaders
First 8 Leaders will go to their subject matter tables located throughout the room to discuss with attendees their “Focus of Strength” and to answer any questions attendees have. (Attendees will be encouraged to find their table of interest based on the map of the room provided in the program).

8:40 a.m.–9:10 a.m.
Recognition Presentation Concludes
Recognition of the work of our final 7 Leaders To Learn From.

9:10 a.m.–9:35 a.m
Breakouts—Meet the Leaders
Second group of Leaders will go to their subject matter tables located throughout the room to discuss with attendees their “Focus of Strength” and to answer any questions attendees have.

9:35 a.m.–10:05 a.m.
District Leader Snapshots
(A selection of 2015 Leaders will come to the stage with their reporters and discuss their “Focus of Strength.”)

10:05 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Midmorning Networking Break

10:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
“Three Keys for Maximizing Leadership Impact”
Michael Fullan, education leadership author and expert, and former minister of education, Canada (2003–2013).

11:30 a.m.–12:00 a.m.
District Leader Snapshots
(A selection of 2015 Leaders will come to the stage with their reporters and discuss their “Focus of Strength”).

12:00 a.m.– 12:30 p.m.
“Ask the ED”
Join in a Department of Education Lightning Round featuring Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education Deborah S. Delisle other Department of Education leadership who will take your questions.

12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m.
Networking Luncheon
Uninterrupted time to mingle with those you’ve met at your tables and at the various tables set up throughout the room during our break-outs.

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