Whitehead named new Philadelphia superintendent

Whitehead named new Philadelphia superintendent


Dr. Shannon Whitehead, principal of McNeal Elementary School in Canton, has been appointed the new superintendent of the Philadelphia Public School District.

The School Board selected Dr. Whitehead after narrowing the list from 12 applicants to six finalists who were interviewed by the board.

Dr. Whitehead, who describes herself as a passionate, self-reflective instructional leader, believes that her most important responsibility as a leader is to foster continuous improvement in teacher practice which will lead to a culture of success for students.

During her 17 years in education, she has served in various roles, including classroom teacher, assistant principal, and principal.

One of her goals has been to make learning as relevant as possible for each student.

In her current positon as principal of McNeal Elementary, Dr. Whitehead:

· Is the lead instructional strategist for a staff of over 70 and a student population of over 500; including 25 English language learners;

· Led her school from a “D” rating to a consistent “B” rating; achieving high academic success with students who come from high poverty backgrounds;

· Developed the concept of Professional Learning Opportunities for teachers to promote curriculum development, to support program implementation, and to increase content knowledge;

· Developed a climate of trust/openness with all stakeholders and engaged parents and community stakeholders in the life of the school;

· Worked diligently on a 2015 $33.5 million-dollar school bond election which resulted in a state-of-the-art McNeal Elementary School which still reflects the historical aspects of the former school. Her “boots on the ground” approach of rallying stakeholders to vote for the bond election made a positive difference in the outcome;

· Was selected 2019-2020 Canton School District Administrator of the Year;

Her background of experience includes implementing policies, managing budgets, and monitoring Professional Learning Communities. She holds a BS degree in Elementary Education, a master’s degree in special education, and an Ed.D. degree in Early Childhood Education. All degrees were earned at Jackson State University.

To further her leadership experience, she attended the Mississippi School Boards Association Prospective Superintendent Leadership Academy and the 2020 CEO Leadership Academy (PREPS).

Rev. Harold Coburn, president of the Philadelphia School Board, was impressed with Dr. Whitehead’s creative energy and relationship-building skills. “The board was seeking an educator who had “hands-on” experience in improving student 

“Dr. Whitehead’s interview confirmed what the board was able to see in her application. She knows how to use data, she knows how to motivate and to involve others, and she shows that she cares deeply about student success. We value her experience as a successful principal.” 

Dr. Whitehead said of her appointment, “I consider it to be a privilege and an honor to be afforded this incredible opportunity to provide the children of Philadelphia with a loving, supportive, and engaging learning environment. As I begin this journey as superintendent, I am eager and excited about the next academic year. Together, we will continue to build a solid foundation of excellent teachers and leaders, district staff, and a community that is actively involved in education.” 

She will assume her duties as superintendent on July 1.

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