Principal Ambassador Fellowship Program
Washington Principal Ambassador Fellow
Bio/Overview: Jill Levine is on leave as the principal at Normal Park Museum Magnet, a Pre-K through 8th grade school in Chattanooga, Tennessee in order to work full time in residence at ED for the 2014-2015 school year. She has led the transformation of two low performing schools into innovative, exciting and challenging places of learning. These schools have become national models and are visited annually by school leaders from throughout the nation. Prior to becoming a principal, Levine taught 3rd grade in the New Orleans Public Schools for five years through Teach for America. She also taught 1st grade in Chattanooga and served as an assistant principal prior to becoming a principal.
Educational Values/Philosophy: Levine believes that learning should not be bound to the four walls of the classroom, nor to the front and back cover of a textbook. She believes that when learning is engaging and meaningful, students learn more and remember more. Levine has led the creation of Normal Park Museum Magnet with this idea in mind. Levine also believes that consistency of instructional program is one key to successful school transformation. When every teacher in a school is committed to the same philosophy and the same instructional approaches, every student has access to the same high quality program. At Normal Park, the faculty has developed “The Normal Park Way,” a list of best practices (examples include guided reading, writers workshop, planning using Understanding by Design, exhibit building, and math model drawing) that frame the school’s instructional approach as well as the topics for faculty professional development. The result of this consistent approach is high student achievement. Levine believes that the second key to a successful school is having an outstanding faculty. With this in mind, Levine believes that the most important part of her job is hiring talented and dedicated teachers and providing the right support. Thus the team has developed Normal Park University, a teacher-driven professional development program. Finally, the third key to a successful school, Levine believes is developing and maintaining a high level of parent and community involvement. At Normal Park, the parents and community are involved in almost every aspect of the school, including carrying out “extreme makeovers” of both campuses, producing an annual arts and music festival, and tutoring students.
Achievements: In 2005, Normal Park was awarded the Ronald P. Simpson Award, Magnet Schools of America’s highest honor. Normal Park has also been named a J.F. Kennedy School of Distinction and has been featured in numerous books and articles including by the U.S. Department of Education in two publications and on the Doing What Works website. In the spring of 2012, Normal Park was given a 1st place award by the Educational Consumers Foundation for having the highest value added test scores in Tennessee. The school has been named a Magnet School of Excellence every year since 2005 and in 2012, Levine was named National Principal of the Year by Magnet Schools of America. Levine was appointed to Tennessee’s First to the Top Advisory Committee by the TN Commissioner of Education and to the Tennessee Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee by the Governor.
Education: Levine holds a Bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College, and a Master’s Degree from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. In August, 2014 Edutopia released a series of videos about Normal Park.
Areas of Interest/Expertise:
- School Leadership
- Transformation of Schools
- K-8 Literacy
- Museum Schools
- Innovation and Creativity in Schools
- Teacher Evaluation Reform
- Professional Development
- Parental and Community Engagement