Leigh McGuigan | leighmcguigan.com

Making It Happen

There is no curriculum, philosophy, or reform agenda that will magically improve urban schools. Many different approaches can work. What makes a difference in outcomes for children is leadership.

It Starts At The Top

Schools all over America have proven that children from the most challenged backgrounds can learn at high levels. Unfortunately, these schools tend to be anomalies, often existing outside the “regular” system, or succeeding in spite of government policies rather than because of them. Few organizations have been able to take success to scale, and the barriers to doing so are formidable. Developing scalable systems to educate children in poverty is enormously difficult. It requires courageous leadership able to design and implement new ways of doing things, as well as a willingness to buck a system that typically puts adult convenience and comfort ahead of the needs of children.

My Work

I came to urban education as a calling, after practicing law in America’s largest law firms and serving as a senior executive in the financial services business. I believe that giving children a fair chance is the most important issue facing our country, and that if we have the courage and wisdom to change we can break the cycle of poverty and discrimination. I received a Ph.D. in educational administration in 2005, focusing my research and experience on student learning and motivation, principal and teacher quality, and statistical measures of student learning growth. After working in senior administration for several large urban districts and helping states and districts improve educator quality, I wanted to test what I had learned and make a difference on the ground by creating a school in which the most disadvantaged boys of color could succeed.  I cofounded and served as CEO of Vertus Charter School, an innovative high school for boys in Rochester, N.Y., from which I’ve just retired.  Check it out at www.vertusschool.org.  Sorry my website is out of date. I’m thinking about all I’ve learned.  I’ll update it someday.  Thanks for visiting —- Leigh LM529@aol.com