Bio/Overview: Leah Raphael is the principal of The Studio School, an arts-based pilot middle school in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She came to this role after more than decade of work in urban public schools in California, North Carolina, and Massachusetts. Leah has served in a variety of positions, including after-school program coordinator, intervention specialist, teacher, and school redesign administrator. During her year in Washington, DC, Leah worked closely with the Secretary’s Senior Advisor on College Access, increasing the Department’s focus on the role of the middle grades in improving high school graduation rates. As a Fellow, Leah was also involved with the work of several Race to the Top states that focused on increasing opportunities for teacher leadership in new evaluation systems.
Educational Values/Philosophy: Raphael views her work as closely connected to helping our world become a more equitable, socially just place. Much of her commitment to urban schools comes from her own firsthand experiences as a student in Los Angeles, and from working as a young volunteer in her mother’s kindergarten classrooms. Raphael believes in nurturing deep connections between students and their schooling, through strong relationships and community-based inquiry. Along with her commitment to youth voice and empowerment through education, Raphael has also become increasingly convinced that transformational change in schools is deeply tied to re-envisioning opportunities for teacher growth and leadership.
Achievements: Raphael was provided the opportunity to study in UCLA’s Teacher Education Program through a UCLA Graduate Opportunity Fellowship and the Philip & Aida Siff Educational Foundation Graduate Fellowship. Most recently, Raphael was awarded an Urban Scholars Fellowship through Harvard University, which allowed her to pursue additional full-time graduate studies in Harvard’s School Leadership Program.Leadership Experience: As a teacher, Leah served as an academic leadership team facilitator, school decision-making committee representative, and grade level chair. She has served as a carrier of “Council” circles across multiple learning communities, a practice designed to promote student achievement and restorative justice in schools. Most recently, in her work as a leader at a turnaround school, Leah led professional development and inquiry cycles for teachers, coaches, and administrators designed to promote professional reflection, feedback, and growth.
Affiliations: UCLA Center X, UCLA History-Geography Project, National Writing Project, Council in Schools, AmeriCorps, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Inner-City Arts, the Coalition for Restorative Justice at Harvard.
Education: Raphael received her Bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies in 2002 from Wesleyan University, where she also completed a semester abroad in the Pitzer in Ecuador program. She went on to earn a Master’s in Education from University of California, Los Angeles and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She holds teaching credentials in elementary education and secondary language arts, as well as principal licensure.
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