Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph announced the hiring of three new team members in Metro Schools who will lead high-need initiatives to serve students and families – two previously existing and one newly created.
· Moreno Carrasco – Executive Officer for Priority Schools
· Dennis Queen – Executive Officer for Charter Schools
· Dr. Maritza González – Executive Officer for Diversity
“These are three of our highest need areas, and it’s important we get strong leaders to take charge of them right away,” said Dr. Joseph. “I feel a sense of urgency in getting these positions filled because we need fresh perspectives. I am very fortunate to have worked with hundreds of great educators over my career and have access to a national network of talent. It’s nice to be able to draw upon that network now to take on some of the biggest issues facing our schools. All three are strong additions to Team MNPS.
“When I hire people to be on my team, I look for evidence of proven leadership which has resulted in increased student performance, a passion for equity and excellence and the ability to connect with people to inspire higher levels of commitment from their teams. Mr. Carrasco, Mr. Queen and Dr. González are three home run hires. They are committed to supporting us as we work to improve educational outcomes for the children of Metro Schools for years to come.”
Moreno Carrasco, Executive Officer for Priority Schools
Moreno Carrasco has been tapped to lead the district’s efforts to improve and turnaround its lowest-performing schools. He comes from Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, where he worked in the Office for School Support and Improvement as the head of leadership development both in schools and the central office. His work gave him deep experience in organizational change and strategic planning for improving school performance and classroom instruction. Prior to working in district administration, Carrasco worked as a principal in two Montgomery County schools, where he led successful turnarounds and raised student achievement, particularly among African American and Latino students. In 2007, he won the Met Life High School Principal of the Year award for the state of Maryland, given by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
“Moreno is one of the strongest school leaders I have worked with,” said Dr. Joseph, “and he brought that drive for serving students to the district-level, too. He can be a coach, a strategist and a mentor, which is exactly what our highest priority schools need. He learned firsthand what it takes to bring real change and improvement to a school, and he uses that knowledge to develop talents in others.”
Dennis Queen, Executive Officer for Charter Schools
Dennis Queen is an experienced education leader whose career has taken him from police officer to teacher to executive consultant to district leader. He most recently worked in Charlotte-Mecklenberg as a community superintendent and prior to that as a regional superintendent in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Between both jobs, he supported school improvement efforts in 65 schools with success in raising academic achievement and lowering discipline incidents. In that work, Queen also gained experience working alongside area charter schools. He also spent 11 years as a school principal with significant academic gains in each school he led.
“We have 30 charter schools in Nashville, which is larger than many stand alone school districts,” said Dr. Joseph.
“They serve thousands of our neediest students and are an important part of the fabric of Metro Schools. Dennis has worked as a regional superintendent in two different districts, and that’s essentially what I want from him here. He will lead this specific subset of schools with the same collaborative and strategic approach that brought him success in Wisconsin and North Carolina. Luckily, he’s starting with a strong foundation of processes and schools so that we can build on our relationships and begin planning for the future.”
Dr. Maritza González, Executive Officer for Diversity and Equity
In the newly created position of executive officer for diversity and equity, Dr. Maritza González will touch every department in Metro Schools with a focus on creating greater equity and access for academic programs and services. She will serve as a guiding force for decisions across the district, ensuring they are made with the needs of all students in mind.
“This is a new position for Metro Schools, but it is a sorely needed one,” said Dr. Joseph. “I want Maritza involved in everything. Family engagement, zoning, academic interventions, communications, school choice – everything gets better when you look at it through the lens of diversity. This district has prioritized diversity, and that’s commendable. We need to make sure our practice matches our philosophy.”
Dr. González has the experience to cover that broad range. She moved to the United States from El Salvador when she was six years old and holds a variety of degrees in international business, communication, education and policy. She is an expert in family and community partnerships and has experience in curriculum design for diverse learners. In 2010, she was appointed to the Maryland Governor’s Task Force on Universal Design for Learning.
“Maritza held a similar position to this in Prince George’s County where we faced a growing population of Latino students whose needs weren’t being met,” said Dr. Joseph. “I want her perspective in Nashville so that every family feels included and no one feels invisible.”
All three will officially began work Friday, July 1.