I’ve never seen a more challenging job than being a school leader. Everything they have to deal with, on top of leading a school, can seem daunting. There are so many exceptional leaders out there who need our support now more than ever if we’re going to continue helping kids achieve their dreams.
— Nora Ligurotis, CEO, Accelerate Institute
As we’ve now reached the mid-way point of 2022—the year in which we are proudly celebrating Accelerate Institute’s 30th anniversary—I’ve had many opportunities to reflect on our journey as an organization over the past three decades.
Originally founded as the Inner-City Teaching Corps by Pat Ryan, Jr. in 1991, we—like every smart organization—have undergone countless evolutions. As our list of achievements has grown, so too has our ambition for creating an even more meaningful impact. What started out as a Chicago-area organization working to develop passionate and dedicated teachers for classrooms in the city’s underserved communities is now a national nonprofit. Each year, we help impact the lives of 1,000s of students around the country through our work supporting more than 500 educators in leadership roles.
Since taking over as Accelerate Institute CEO in 2014, I’ve had the great privilege of working with so many of these school leaders who are quite literally shaping America’s future. Watching the vast potential of the young people whose lives these educators have impacted come to fruition as they graduate high school, earn their degrees, and go out into the world to inspire change in their own professional careers is nothing short of extraordinary; it’s what keeps me going in doing this important work each and every day.
We know that our work inherently involves seemingly insurmountable obstacles to overcome on a regular basis, but nothing could have prepared us for the challenges of these past couple of years. The pandemic added previously unfathomable layers of complexity to what was already an unsustainable job for school leaders—and yet they rose to the occasion once again. Having witnessed firsthand the safe, loving, and supportive environments they’ve maintained for students while walking their schools’ hallways during the past year, it’s abundantly clear that it’s all been worthwhile. But there’s also no denying: a change is long past overdue.
Moving forward, we now find ourselves at a pivotal crossroads. There’s no question that the pandemic upended our nation’s education systems, but the truth is: these systems were broken to begin with. We’re now faced with a unique opportunity to rebuild America’s schools equitably so that all children have the ability to reach their true potential. Doing so will require new school leadership models in which leaders are well-equipped with the critical support they need to maximize their impact.
To this end, our incredible staff here at Accelerate Institute has been working tirelessly to interrupt the status quo, reimagine more just and equitable systems, and reconnect with our partner educators to forge stronger bonds that carry us onward. I’m incredibly proud of all they’ve accomplished and feel hopeful about what the future holds for us all. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to advancing our mission.
I’d also like to thank Pat Ryan, Jr., whose life-long passion for delivering equity in education for America’s students has remained undeterred after all of these years. A true visionary, none of this would be possible without the commitment Pat, his family, and his friends have for creating the brighter future we all envision for our nation’s youth.
Finally, I’d like to say thank you to all of you who have walked alongside us on this journey over the past 30 years. Thank you for your camaraderie; your support; your inspiration; your success stories; and for continuing to stand here with us today. I look forward to what’s next as we continue to work together to create a more just and equitable society for America’s future generations.
CEO, Accelerate Institute