April 16, 2019
The Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education is pleased to announce that Dr. Brent Stephens has been selected as a finalist for the position of Superintendent. Pending final negotiations of a contract and site visits, it is anticipated that ratification of Dr. Stephens’ appointment will occur on May 8, 2019, at a regular meeting of the Board of Education. The board will schedule a plan to introduce Dr. Stephens to the Berkeley community.
Currently, Dr. Stephens is the Chief Academic Officer of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), the eighth largest school district in California.
A resident of Oakland and a graduate of Harvard University’s Urban Superintendents Program, Dr. Stephens has deep experience in public education, as Chief Academic Officer, and previously Assistant Superintendent in SFUSD; as both a secondary and elementary school principal; and as a Board-certified Spanish bilingual teacher, union representative, and Special Education paraprofessional earlier in his career.
The Board of Education’s decision is a reflection of input gathered from key stakeholder groups in the District regarding the qualities desired in the next District leader.
“Based on the feedback received from our parents, staff, and community members, we were looking for a strong leader who is a collaborative, energetic, instructional expert who is deeply committed to equity,” said Board Vice-President Beatriz Leyva-Cutler. “After considering many excellent candidates, we were thrilled to select Dr. Stephens as the finalist for the job of leading our district.”
As Chief Academic Officer at SFUSD, among many other accomplishments, Dr. Stephens has led efforts to increase participation and outcomes for students in high-level secondary math (including a dramatic increase in the percentage of African-American students taking a 4th year of math); established a highly successful Pathway to Teaching program for district classified employees to become credentialed teachers; and led the district’s work to design tiered intervention for students with dyslexia.
“In Berkeley, I see a community committed to the full promise of desegregation, a fearless and public reflection on progress towards true equity, and strong, results-oriented community partnerships,” said Dr. Stephens. “I am a public educator to my core, and I look forward to working with Berkeley Unified students, staff, and community to provide every one of our students with the opportunity to grow, learn, and thrive.”
* * *
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.
Dr. Brent Stephens currently serves as the Chief Academic Officer for San Francisco Unified School District, where he oversees curriculum, coaching, and professional development for teachers throughout the 55,000 student district.
Dr. Stephens began his teaching career as a Spanish bilingual teacher in Oakland, supporting immigrant students and their families as they entered US society in search of security, work, and a strong education. As a teacher, he routinely visited students’ homes, offered evening English classes to parents, and became an advocate for families. He believes that accomplished and responsive teaching is a springboard for equity in our schools – a powerful opportunity for affirmation, mobility, and community empowerment.
While working as teacher in Boston, Dr. Stephens achieved National Board certification, the country’s highest professional distinction. This professional learning experience continues to provide him with a compelling touchstone for standards-based teaching, for scaffolding and differentiation, and for the positive role that students’ own backgrounds and cultures should play in classrooms.
As a school principal with both K-8 and middle school experience, Dr. Stephens built from this knowledge of excellent teaching. He worked with the teachers union to ensure that teachers had time together to look at student work, plan, and engage in meaningful professional development. He is particularly proud of the “Art in California” club he created to appeal to young immigrant and Chicano students who are attracted to the rich traditions of Chicano and Mexican art in California.
As the Chief Academic Officer in San Francisco, Dr. Stephens leads the creation and implementation of innovative curriculum in Math, Science, Computer Science, Language Arts, English Language Development, and Ethnic Studies, as well as programs for Physical Education, Visual and Performing Arts, Libraries, and immersion programs.
Dr. Stephens has a long history of close partnership on Special Education issues, including work to redistribute Special Day Class programs more equitably around the district and to expand Special Olympics programs so that they are more inclusive. Since the advent of the 2016 California Dyslexia Guidelines, he has played a pivotal role in expanding access to research-based approaches to reading instruction.
Over the last four years, Dr. Stephens worked with schools and partner organizations to reorganize math instruction for all students, resulting in a 30% increase in the number of students taking a fourth year of high school math, a key stepping stone to a successful college application. Notably, this increase was true across all demographic groups.
In response to the statewide teacher shortage, Dr. Stephens secured grants and partnerships to launch four new teacher preparation programs, including an innovative “grow your own” program called Pathway to Teaching. In a two-year period, these programs grew from 25 new teachers per year to 150, and a majority of these candidates are local and identify as candidates of color.
In response to previous budget reductions, Dr. Stephens has led engagement processes at schools and in central office, valuing feedback from families, teachers, and administrators. He has worked on large philanthropic campaigns to build political will for multi-million dollar investments, and has contributed directly to the design of successful parcel tax campaigns in San Francisco. Dr. Stephens recognizes that visible, engaged leadership is critical so that a range of advocates, voters, and investors feel confident about the value of public education.
Dr. Stephens holds a doctorate from Harvard University and has published on school reform with Harvard Education Press. As much as his busy schedule permits, he loves to spend time with family, hike the East Bay hills, and make art and music.
CONTACT: Charles Burress, Public Information Officer