Tisha Edwards, interim CEO of the Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS), said Aug. 14 she wants teachers and principals to be innovative and unafraid of being risk-taking educators in the coming school year.
“I encourage everyone to be bold and courageous leaders for the city,” Edwards said in her first appearance as interim BCPS chief at the school-year kickoff event for principals, administrators and other top level BCPS staffers.
Edwards told the crowd they have “the ability to change lives.” She said her mother, Brenda Wilson and some strong educators “saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.”
“As of Aug. 14, I am pressing the reset button,” she said, signaling a new beginning at the start of the event, held at the American Visionary Art Museum.
“There is a lot to get done, but starting today and going forward we are in a position to [steer] our 85,000 kids towards success,” Edwards said
She said, “Our students learn by doing, they learn when they are engaged and they need our support.”
Edwards, who was chief of staff to BCPS former CEO Andres Alonso, frequently interrupted the event with the directive to “give it up” as she played dance music and urged members of the audience to dance, express themselves and be unafraid “of making mistakes.”
She also hailed some school principals–for instance, one whose school breakfast programs had high participation rates, another who participated in an art class at his school and another who drives students to their internships in a bus he bought for his school—as “stories behind the results.”
“Thank you for giving it your best,” said Edwards, whose selection as Alonso’s successor was criticized because of her limited time in the classroom as a teacher.
But she drew praise from those at the event. “She’s done a lot of good work and made a lot of changes,” Principal of Frederick Elementary School Yozmin Draper told the AFRO. “We are about building … and I am excited about the partnership.”
The city school year begins on Aug. 26 for students and gets underway Aug. 21 for principals and teachers.
The program also included remarks from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake followed by lunch and a performance by Keon Myers, an eighth grade student at Afya Public Charter School.