Principal Ambassador Fellowship Program
Campus Principal Ambassador Fellow
Bio/Overview: Rachel Skerritt is currently serving in her third year as principal of Eastern Senior High School, which re-launched in 2011 under the federal turnaround model. Prior to her transition to Washington, DC, Skerritt was Chief of Staff for the Boston Public Schools, serving as the primary point person for the Superintendent and liaison to the School Committee, and co-authoring and overseeing the district’s strategic plan, the Acceleration Agenda. Before working in central office, Skerritt held the position of Headmaster at Another Course to College, a Boston public pilot high school, after completing the Boston Principal Fellowship Program at the School Leadership Institute. Her career in education began at her alma mater, Boston Latin School, where she taught English Literature for seven years.
Educational Values/Philosophy: After reading Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities as a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, Skerritt realized that most young people with backgrounds similar to her own are not fortunate enough to attend public schools that provided the high quality instruction that she experienced in elementary, middle, and high school. It was deeply troubling to her that children living in America’s inner cities could be denied chances for success due to poor preparation for college, career, and life. It was then that her commitment to improving the conditions of urban education was forged. Her philosophy is that all students should be provided with open access to a challenging curriculum and a school culture of extremely high expectations coupled with high levels of support. She believes that exposure to the larger world is often the eye-opener for students in impoverished communities, and she has prioritized extra-curricular learning experiences for her students, including experiences that send scholars to other states, countries, and continents. She focuses a great amount of her time as a school leader on selecting and developing the faculty and staff on her team, as she cites a strong adult community as the primary ingredient to turning around an underperforming school. She defines the most important work in schools as the magic that can take place when a talented teacher captures the minds of learners. Her daily practice involves modeling the standard that she expects from her team: working long hours to reach ambitious goals, loving children and prioritizing their needs above all, reflecting on tough feedback, and being responsive to staff, families, students, and community partners.
Achievements: Under Skerritt’s leadership, Eastern Senior High School has earned authorization as an International Baccalaureate school and scored the second highest proficiency rates amongst comprehensive high schools in the District of Columbia on last spring’s DC-CAS exams. Skerritt was named a Harry S. Truman Scholar in 1998 for her commitment to public service and was selected as a national finalist for the White House Fellows Program in 2009 and 2010. Skerritt has also published three novels and has contributed articles to The Root, a subsidiary of the Washington Post.
Education: Skerritt holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and Master’s degree in Secondary Education from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s Degree in Education Administration from the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Areas of Interest/Expertise:
- Teacher Recruitment And Retention
- Urban School Leadership
- College Preparedness
- Turnaround Schools