She began her education career as an elementary school teacher with the New York City Board of Education. In New York, she taught at the elementary, middle and high school levels; served as a school principal; and served as Director of Curriculum & Instruction Professional Development. She was also an adjunct professor at Malcolm King College in Harlem, City College in New York, the College of New Rochelle, and Fordham University.
Before coming to Cleveland, Barbara Byrd-Bennett held two urban superintendencies. She was Supervising Superintendent for the Chancellor's District, responsible for direct oversight of the lowest performing schools in the New York City public school system, where she was credited with dramatic improvements in student achievement. Prior to that, she was Superintendent for the Crown Heights school district in Brooklyn, where she was credited with reestablishing order and instructional focus during an "administrative take-over" of the district. Before becoming a superintendent, she was the Deputy Executive Director of the Division of Instruction and Professional Development for the New York schools.
Throughout her career, Barbara Byrd-Bennett has demonstrated a skill at working cooperatively and collaboratively with individuals and groups including students, parents, teachers, administrators, unions, businesses, universities and community-based organizations to improve student academic achievement. She has shown a keen sensitivity and responsiveness to the needs of special education populations and diverse ethnic and linguistic groups.
Barbara Byrd-Bennett came to the Cleveland school district on November 16, 1998. She was chosen by Mayor Michael R. White to be the district's first chief executive officer under a state law that gives the mayor the authority to appoint the CEO as well as the Board of Education.
Guiding Barbara Byrd-Bennett is her clear vision statement, which sums up the District's deep commitment to Cleveland's children. The vision mandates success for each student' and responsibility and accountability for all teachers, principals and staff.
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