Linda Nathan | The Hardest Questions Aren’t on the Test: Lessons from an Innovative Urban School
Nov 10 - 13, 2010 San Francisco, California San Francisco Marriott Marquis,
Register for Fall Forum: http://www.regonline.com/fall_forum_2010
Saturday, November 13, 10:15am-noon
Fall Forum Featured Session
Boston Arts Academy (BAA) comprises an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse student body, yet 95 percent of its graduates are accepted to college. This remarkable success rate, says Principal Linda Nathan, is in large part due to asking the right questions and being open to seeking answers collaboratively with faculty, parents, and the students themselves. In her recently published book, The Hardest Questions Aren’t on the Test: Lessons from an Innovative Urban School, Nathan gives insights into the process of grappling with these questions, attempting to implement solutions, and evaluating the outcomes. Stories that are inspirational as well as heartbreaking reveal the missteps and failures—as well as the successes. Nathan doesn’t claim to have all the answers, but seeks to share the philosophies and practices that have worked for the BAA. Principals, educators, and parents will find many new ideas to bring to their own schools.
Nathan will focus on questions all schools can consider, such as:
- How and why does a school develop a shared vision of what it stands for?
- What makes a great teacher, and how can a principal help good teachers improve?
- Why must schools talk openly about race and achievement, and what happens when they do?
Linda Nathan is the founding headmaster of the Boston Arts Academy, the city’s first and only public high school for the visual and performing arts. BAA sends over 95 percent of its graduates to college—all residents of the city of Boston.
Under her leadership, the school has won state, national, and international recognition and awards. These include a Massachusetts Compass Award, a “Breaking Ranks” award from the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and a Mentor School award from the Coalition of Essential Schools.
Linda was instrumental in starting Boston’s first performing-arts middle school, and was a driving force behind the creation of Fenway High School, recognized nationally for its innovative educational strategies and school-to-work programs. She is also a co-founder and board member of the Center for Collaborative Education in Boston, a nonprofit education reform organization dedicated to creating more equitable and democratic schools.
She has served on the National Academy of Science’s Commission for the Science of Learning. She was named Teacher of the Year by “Chronicle” on Channel 5, ABC’s affiliate in Boston. In 2003, Linda received the Nadia Boulanger Educator’s Award from the Longy School of Music for her work in arts education. In 2006 she received the first Fidelity Inspire the Future Award given to community leaders who excel in encouraging the next generation of artists and arts advocates. She was named a 2007 Barr Foundation Fellow, and spent June 2007 in South Africa and Zimbabwe as part of this fellowship. Linda received the Massachusetts College of Art and Design’s Morton R. Godine Medal for Service to the Community at the college’s commencement ceremony in May 2009.
Linda’s articles have appeared in Phi Delta Kappan, Educational Leadership, Horace, and other publications. Fluent in Spanish, she has worked on issues of school reform in Puerto Rico, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. In 2006, she presented to the first UNESCO World Conference on Arts Education in Lisbon, Portugal. Linda is a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education where she teaches the course, “Building Democratic Schools.” Her book about teaching and leadership in urban schools, The Hardest Questions Aren’t On the Test: Lessons from an Innovative Urban School, was published by Beacon Press in September 2009.
Linda earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley; a master’s degree in education administration at Antioch University; a master’s of performing arts at Emerson College, and a doctorate in education at Harvard University. She is married to Steve Cohen, a professor at Tufts University and they have three children ages 22, 19, and 15.