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Leading for Equity: Academic Development Through an Equity Lens

Thursday, October 1, 2020 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm EDT

Leading for Equity

Presented by Nancy Duchesneau, a Research Associate at The Education Trust, Washington DC; Dr. Jack R. Smith, Superintendent, Montgomery County Schools, Rockville, Maryland; and Dr. Monifa McKnight, Deputy Superintendent, Montgomery County Schools, Rockville, Maryland
Moderated by Dr. Valerie Truesdale, Assistant Executive Director, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

Hosted by AASA, The Superintendents Association 
AASA’s Leadership Network, providing premier professional learning for educational leaders

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In the current dual pandemic of COVID-19 and racial injustice, school leaders across the country are renewing their commitment to equity in education. Watch Nancy Duchesneau, a Research Associate at The Education Trust, and Superintendent Dr. Jack R. Smith of Maryland’s largest school system, Montgomery County Public Schools, as they discuss the district-level policies and actions needed to close opportunity gaps for students of color, students from low-income backgrounds and other historically marginalized groups.

Hear findings from The Education Trust’s qualitative research study on equitably supporting social, emotional, and academic development, specific policy and practice recommendations, and learn about tools that can support superintendents in doing equity-centered work.

In his second term, Dr. Smith along with Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Monifa McKnight, discuss the systems work to identify, understand, and implement strategies to put equity at the forefront of all efforts to support teaching and learning. The district has implemented the All In: Equity and Achievement Framework that has three critical components:

  1. Evidence of Learning: Are our students learning? Are they learning enough?
  2. Equity Accountability Model: How do we know? If not, why not?
  3. Equitable Access to Resources: What are we going to do about it?

The framework, informed by an external study performed by Educational Resource Strategies, identified multiple strengths and challenges driving the district’s equity work and how school administrators are now working to close the opportunity and achievement gap.


Nancy DuchesneauAbout the Presenters

Nancy is a P-12 Research Associate and leads the Social, Emotional, and Academic Development work at EdTrust. In this role, she works to fill current gaps in research, policy, and advocacy to ensure that schools holistically support the well-being and development of students, and especially for low-income students and students of color.

In addition to having served as EdTrust’s Spencer Fellow for Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, Nancy worked in multiple roles prior to joining EdTrust. Recent experiences include serving as a research assistant under education faculty at Michigan State University. She has also worked on projects with researchers at Education Testing Service (ETS) and interned with consultants at the Center for Assessment.


Jack Smith

Jack R. Smith began his tenure as superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) on July 1, 2016 and is now in his second term as superintendent. A dedicated lifelong educator, Dr. Smith has been a classroom teacher, principal, curriculum director, and a local superintendent of schools. Dr. Smith’s steadfast goal has always been to provide all students, regardless of their learning needs, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, with options and choices upon graduation.

Among Dr. Smith’s many illustrious awards and honors, he was named Maryland Superintendent of the Year in 2013 and he received the 2010 Change Agent Award from the Maryland State Department of Education’s Division of Career and College Readiness. Dr. Smith is a member of Leadership Maryland’s Class of 2011, and he has served on a variety of volunteer boards. A graduate of Eastern Washington University, with a bachelor’s in English and Communications and a master’s in School Administration, Dr. Smith received his Ph.D. in instructional leadership from Notre Dame of Maryland University.


Monifa McKnightDr. Monifa McKnight currently serves as Deputy Superintendent in MCPS. Prior to this role, she served as the Chief School Management and Instructional Leadership Officer for Howard County Public Schools. Prior to going to Howard County, Dr. McKnight served as the Director for Secondary Leadership Development Programs in Montgomery County Public Schools. She also served as a Campus Principal Ambassador Fellow for the United States Department of Education in 2016 under the leadership of Secretary of Education John King.

Dr. McKnight was honored as the 2015 Maryland Middle School Principal of the Year by the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals and as the 2015 Maryland State Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. She received this honor during her 5th year as the Principal of Ridgeview Middle School in Gaithersburg, MD.

Dr. McKnight’s prior experiences in education include classroom teacher, English Resource Teacher, Staff Development Teacher, and Assistant Principal. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from Bowie State University, Bowie Maryland, and a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Valerie TruesdaleAbout the Host

Valerie joined AASA early in 2019 as the Assistant Executive Director responsible for guiding leadership development services and programs. With years of experience in the superintendency and roles in instructional technology, she knows that AASA’s Leadership Network can be a substantial resource for school leaders trying to keep pace with the rapidly changing delivery of K-12 education.



Join the Leading for Equity community to network with educators, participate in online discussions, receive invitations to upcoming edWebinars, and view recordings of previous programs to earn CE certificates.


The AASA Leadership Network drives superintendent success, innovation and growth, shaping the future of public education while preparing students for what’s next. We are the largest, most diverse network of superintendents in America. Passionate and committed, we connect educational leaders to the professional learning, leadership development, relationships and partnerships they need to ensure a long career of impact.



Thursday, October 1, 2020
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm EDT
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