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DC Schools Chancellor to Teach Education Policy Class

Kaya Henderson

"I’m honored to be able to give some of my time back to the university and excited about the opportunity to engage with smart, inquisitive, engaging students at GPPI," says District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson (SFS 92, G'07) about teaching education policy at Georgetown. "It’s going to be a great class.”

Sept. 6, 2012 – Kaya Henderson (SFS’92, G’07), chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), will teach a course on education policy at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute (GPPI) this fall.

After serving in leadership roles at Teach For America and The New Teacher Project, Henderson earned an executive master’s in leadership in 2007 from Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business.

She joined DCPS that year, became chancellor in June 2011, and has since worked on policies to enhance teacher productivity and the quality of student education.

Engaging Students

The alumna received an honorary degree from Georgetown in April 2012.

“Georgetown has given me so much,” says Henderson, whose course is called Education Policy: Teachers. “I’m honored to be able to give some of my time back to the university and excited about the opportunity to engage with smart, inquisitive, engaging students at GPPI. It’s going to be a great class.”

The half-semester course, which begins in mid-October, will be an elective offered to students in any of GPPI’s master’s degree programs.

Sharing Insights

The class will center on how research can inform education policy and the challenges of policy implementation.

Students will examine the role of policy and whether it is best used to identify, recruit and retain good teachers or to create good teachers. The class will also focus on how teachers should be hired, trained, supervised and compensated.

“We are excited to have Chancellor Henderson join our faculty so that she may share her insights on educational policy and administration with our students,” says Edward Montgomery, dean of GPPI. “Having Kaya come back to the Hilltop represents an exciting and unique opportunity to engage with one of the nation's preeminent educational policy practitioners."

Policy Dinner

Henderson also served as the speaker for GPPI’s first Policy Dinner Sept. 4.

The dinners, which take place throughout the academic year, are an opportunity for small groups of GPPI students to sit down with a leading policy practitioner for a candid conversation.

At the dinner, Henderson discussed her teaching and policy experience and her ideas for moving the nation’s education system forward.


The chancellor said she became motivated to work in education years ago while serving Teach For America as a middle school teacher in the South Bronx.

“It was challenging to me to see young people who had the mental capacity but who didn’t have teachers who were holding them to high expectations,” she explained. “They didn’t have people who were advocating for them in the schoolhouse.”

She also discussed DCPS’ newest initiative, LIFT (the Leadership Initiative for Teachers), a five-stage career ladder that provides high-performing teachers with opportunities for advancement inside the classroom as well as additional responsibility and increased recognition and compensation.

“I had fantastic teachers growing up, across my entire career,” Henderson said. “I knew it intuitively at the time, now I know what the research says, which is the greatest in-school factor to improving student achievement is the quality of the teacher.”

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