People

Alumni Spotlight: Akeem Anderson (Fels '15) at DC Public Schools

April 15, 2016

Please describe your organization and its mission.

I work for DC Public Schools where we educate nearly 49,000 students. My office is the School Turnaround and Performance Department, located in the Office of the Chief of Schools. For context, the Office of the Chief of School is the office that primarily sets the vision for academic success and standards for each of our schools. The School Turnaround and Performance Department works with our focus and priority schools to ensure all students have access to a high quality education. We work with Instructional Superintendents and Principals to craft school plans, examine student data to determine professional development for principals and teachers, and provide resources for these schools in an effort to reach all students.

What is your current role for your organization?

Currently, I work as a School Turnaround Specialist. I have a portfolio of 14 schools, and I'm responsible for working with the Instructional Superintendent and Principal of each school to craft school turnaround plans, implement those plans, and monitor our progress. Along with my School Turnaround work, I also co-manage the District's Empowering Males of Color Grant, 16 grants that cover 22 schools aimed at increasing academic and socio-emotional outcomes for black and Latino boys in DC Public Schools. Through this grant, we provide mentors, specific and targeted academic interventions, professional development for teachers and school leaders, and will be opening an all male college prep high school.

How has Fels helped you in your career so far?

Prior to Fels, I had done work in school turnaround efforts in New Orleans, building my content knowledge around education and what works in turning around struggling schools. The Fels education was really helpful in improving my skills in data analysis and giving opportunities for continuous group projects which force you to find build consensus and speak with conviction in order to convince and motivate others. Most importantly, Fels taught me that even public administrators sometimes fall into the trap of public administration.

What was your favorite Fels course and why?

It's difficult to pick just one, but if forced, I'd have to go with accounting and budgeting. I work with schools to set their budgets and, while the budget class was at a larger scale, it's nice to continue practicing the skill of building coalitions to identify and balance priorities, and align limited funds to initiatives that have the largest impact.

What advice do you have for incoming students?

My advice to incoming students would be to be thoughtful about the skills you're hoping to gain and purposeful in selecting classes (particularly once you start selecting electives). Also, Philadelphia is a great place to study public administration. You have very smart people (many with Fels degrees) working to solve some of the city's most pressing policy challenges. Definitely reach out to them and take advantage of that network

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Contact Information

Fels Institute of Government
University of Pennsylvania
3814 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Phone: (215) 898-2600
Fax: (215) 746-2829

felsinstitute@sas.upenn.edu