Emilio Pack

Recognized for Leadership in Access & Opportunity for Students of Color

  • Expertise: Access & Opportunity for Students of Color
  • Position: Founder and CEO of STEM Preparatory Schools
  • District: Los Angeles, Calif.

When running a charter school network feels like a huge pileup of paperwork and policy and Emilio Pack loses his way a little, he pulls out a picture of himself in elementary school. He’s a chubby kid in homemade plaid overalls, not yet fluent in English, a true outsider at a school full of rich white children in designer clothes.

Seeing that photo instantly zaps him full of renewed energy and purpose. He’s running these three STEM Preparatory schools, in working-class South Los Angeles, for children just like he once was: children who don’t have good schools in their neighborhoods.

So here, between the churches and check-cashing shops, he’s opened a sort of protective pipeline: an elementary, middle, and high school that aim to transform ordinary children into the high-tech problem-solvers of tomorrow, with college degrees and white-collar paychecks.

Lessons from the Leader

  • All College Degrees Are Not Created Equal: Bachelor’s degrees in science, engineering, technology, and math fields offer students a strong shot at good-paying jobs in fast-growing fields. They also contribute to diversifying job sectors that are disproportionately white.
  • Lead With Love and Respect: Leadership is built on love and respect for students, teachers, and staff, and a full investment in their growth.
  • Core Values Can’t Be a List on the Wall: They have to be your guiding lights. They should inform your decisions every day about hiring, curriculum, student discipline, by reminding you who you are as an organization.

Pack was born in a gritty Los Angeles neighborhood like this, three months after his single mother immigrated from Cuba. But he was one of the lucky ones: He got out. Relatives pooled their money to help Pack’s mother buy a small house in San Marino, one of the city’s richest neighborhoods, famous for its top-notch schools.

“I don’t want these kids to have to leave their neighborhoods, like I did, to go to good schools,” Pack says in his sunny office adjoining the high school, Math and Science College Preparatory. “I want to bring good schools to them.”

That desire has shaped Pack’s life, first as a middle school counselor, then as assistant principal, principal, college instructor, and charter-school founder.

More Leaders of 2019 Sneak Peek

Produced with support from The Wallace Foundation, at www.wallacefoundation.org

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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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