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Mara Benitez

2011 Cohort

 I have over 20 years experience in urban education. I have been a teacher, a school leader, a central office administrator, author and coach. I started my teaching career in New York City where I taught social studies, Spanish and led youth leadership projects in schools designed to provide young people with a second chance at earning a high school diploma.  As part of my commitment to give back to the community where I grew up, I returned to the South Bronx to teach and later lead a small alternative high school. In 2000, I came to the Oakland Unified School district in the capacity of Executive Director of Alternative Education to support the restructuring of their alternative schools and programs. For six years, I was the Senior Director of School Development at the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) where I led a national network of 50 small schools that focused on equity and supported the creation of 20 new small schools. I am the author of Small Schools, Big Ideas: An essential guide to successfully transforming schools(Jossey-Bass 2009), a book that details the lessons learned through the thoughtful development of equity focused new small schools. Most recently, I started a consulting and coaching practice, Transformative Coaching and Consulting, and over the last three years, I’ve coached principals; trained parent leaders; conducted quality school reviews; and led strategic planning initiatives. I hold a MS in Educational Leadership from Bank Street College of Education and I am a graduate of Bank Street’s Principals Institute. I am on the board of directors of the North Oakland Community Charter School. I am an active parent leader at Manzanita SEED elementary school where my child attends kindergarten.  My research is aimed at better understanding the political forces that shape the decisions of school reform leaders and movements.

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