Return to Headlines

BPS Announces New School Leaders For 2021-22 School Year

The Boston Public Schools (BPS) is pleased to announce the new school leaders for the 2021-22 school year. Some of these principals and headmasters are new to the district, while others have already cultivated rich histories at BPS as former students, teachers, or administrators.

This year, BPS is proud to welcome 15 new school leaders. Some quick facts about the new leaders:

  • 87% are leaders of color
  • 80% have previous BPS classroom and/or administrative experience
  • 47% are fluent in a language other than English

Nine of the district’s new school leaders have risen to their positions following previous experience working in Boston Public Schools as educators, principal fellows, program directors, interim and assistant principals, and so on. Three of our new leaders have even attended Boston Public Schools as students: Sonie Felix, Hải Sơn and Marvin Gutierrez.

Brief biographies of the new BPS school leaders follow:

Boston Latin Academy
Gavin Smith, Head of School

Mr. Smith has many years of experience within Boston Public Schools. He was previously Assistant Head of School at Fenway High School, and previously a Principal Fellow at Boston Latin School, a Science Teacher at the John D. O’Bryant School, and a math and science teacher at both Beacon High School and City on a Hill Charter School. During his career, Mr. Smith has observed and evaluated teachers as well as supervised the math and science programs for standards-aligned curriculum while using data-informed strategies to promote equitable classrooms.

Boston Community Leadership Academy/John W. McCormack Middle School
Ondrea Johnston, Head of School

Ms. Johnston has worked in public education for over 17 years, including extensive experience working in Boston Public Schools. She has held various roles in the district consisting of middle and high school Math Teacher, Math Program Director at Boston Latin Academy (BLA), Assistant Head of School at BLA, Assistant Director for K-12 Mathematics at BPS, and Assistant Principal at the James P. Timilty Middle School. As a BPS Leader, Ms. Johnston has achieved improved outcomes through strong community building, curriculum, and professional development. Currently, Ms. Johnston is working with BPS Educators through the leadership skills needed for completion of the PAL for principal/assistant principal licensure through the BPS PAL Support Program.

Nathan Hale Elementary School
Candice Whitmore, Principal

Ms. Whitmore has served as an elementary school assistant principal in Watertown, Massachusetts for the past three years. In addition to her duties as an assistant principal, she demonstrated her commitment to serving all children and families as a member of the district’s equity team and initiating the school’s Parent Diversity Council, as well as establishing the Parent of Color Advisory Council to the superintendent in Watertown. In total, Ms. Whitmore has four years of administrative experience and nine years of teaching elementary grades in Nashville, Tennessee, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Madison, Wisconsin. Ms. Whitmore is a talented instructional leader who places students at the center, applying expertise in culturally relevant universal design for learning, believing that all children can achieve.

Mather Elementary School
Hải Sơn, Principal

Mr. Sơn immigrated to the United States from Vietnam when he was 7 years old and credits his bilingualism as an adult to his experience as a student in Boston Public Schools. Mr. Sơn has worked in public education for over 10 years, including extensive experience working in BPS. He previously served as Assistant Principal of the Frederick Middle School, a role he also held at the McCormack Middle School. Additionally, he was a principal intern at the Mather School while completing his Master’s in Educational Administration at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Throughout his career, Mr. Sơn has focused on supporting the needs of English Learners, and recently he worked to ensure engagement during the pandemic including strategic use of platforms like Instagram to celebrate students and staff, and offer encouragement and tech support to students and families struggling to connect.

Henry Grew Elementary School
Michelle Simon, Principal

Ms. Simon is a lifelong resident of Boston and has worked in public education for over 10 years, including 6 years in the Boston Public Schools. She previously served as a principal-fellow at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School. Ms. Simon has also served as a teacher leader at the Mozart Elementary School and at the Mattahunt Elementary School. In her role at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School, Ms. Simon worked to address issues of access and equity particularly for Black and Latinx students and families. Additionally, in her role at the Mozart School she collaborated with the school leader to plan and lead grade level teams of educators through professional learning sessions on culturally and linguitically sustaining practices, and anti-racist practices resulting in increased cross-grade level collaboration and student belongingness.

Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School
Lauren Murdock, Interim Principal

Ms. Murdock served as a leadership intern as part of the Harvard Graduate School of Education leadership program (spring 2019), and was previously the Director of K-5 Instruction at Orchard Gardens. The collaborative work Ms. Murdock has led and the relationships she has cultivated during this time will continue to have a positive impact on student learning and will serve the entire Orchard Gardens community well. Prior to coming to Boston, Ms. Murdock taught in Chicago, Illinois at the elementary and middle school levels and was also an instructional coach. Ms. Murdock is a talented instructional leader, who has and will continue to build the capacity of all staff to design rigorous, student-focused and standards-aligned learning opportunities that are inclusive of all students in the Orchard Gardens School community.

Roger Clap Elementary School
Emma Fialka-Feldman, Principal

During her career in the Boston Public Schools, Ms. Fialka-Feldman has taught in inclusive elementary settings, mentored aspiring teachers through the Boston Teacher Residency Program, and has designed curriculum in both literacy and math that has yielded excellent outcomes for the students in her care. Ms. Fialka-Feldman previously served as the interim principal of the Roger Clap Elementary School and is a fellow in the Lynch Leadership Academy. Since February 2021, Ms. Fialka-Feldman has collaborated with central and school-based staff to welcome students back for in-person learning, developed community partnerships to strengthen students’ experiences, and increased collaboration amongst educators to ensure that those closest to the work are leaders within the community. Prior to joining the Clap, Ms. Fialka-Feldman was a principal fellow at the Mozart Elementary School and a teacher at the Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter School. She has a deep commitment to inclusion, social justice, and equity, and has written and presented nationally about the importance of inclusive education and how to lead this work with compassion and equity.

Community Academy
Sonie Felix, Head of School

Ms. Felix attended the Boston Public Schools from the elementary grades through high school and graduated from The English High School. Ms. Felix is originally from Haiti and has spent many years working for BPS. As a young girl growing up in the City of Boston, Ms. Felix always knew that she wanted to be a teacher. She started her career in BPS as an English teacher, before transitioning to literacy coaching, where she supported middle school teachers in implementing literacy initiatives throughout the district. Her love of literacy and commitment to the children of Boston led her to take on various leadership roles in the BPS. Ms. Felix most recently served as the interim director of the Diploma Plus program at Charlestown High School this past school year. She is passionate about her work in education and strives to level the playing field for all students who enter her classroom and school community.

Madison Park Vocational High School
Dr. Sidney Brown, Head of School

Dr. Brown comes to Boston Public Schools with 20 years of experience delivering educational leadership and direction to academic departments, public school systems, and faculty members driving both organizational and student excellence. He has offered his leadership experience in delivering high quality education standards to thousands of students across universities and public schools. He is a collaborative educator with knowledge and experience in transforming vocational schools. Dr. Brown comes to BPS from Alabama, and among his many accomplishments, he has served as a transformational school leader at Anniston High School, and has been engaged in educational leadership at both the school level and the college level. Dr. Brown has published many articles, book chapters and other literary content throughout his educational career.

Thomas J. Kenny Elementary School
Daniel Mckoy, Interim Principal

Mr. Mckoy served as a principal fellow from the Boston College Lynch Leadership Academy program at the Mather School during the 2020-21 school year. While there, he co-led with his principal mentor to facilitate grade level meetings, worked with families, staff, and students to address the achievement gap between students with and without disabilities. Additionally, Mr. Mckoy led professional learning on antiracist practices to further cultivate a welcoming and affirming learning environment for Black and Latinx students. Prior to his time at the Mather, Mr. Mckoy also previously taught mathematics at the Josiah Quincy Upper School. Before coming to Boston, Mr. Mckoy taught in Chicago, Illinois at the elementary and middle school levels, and was also an instructional coach. Mr. Mckoy is a talented instructional leader who has and will continue to build the capacity of all staff to design rigorous, student-focused and standards-aligned learning opportunities that are inclusive of all students.

Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Dr. Michelle Eisan-Smith, Head of School

Dr. Eisan-Smith brings five years of experience delivering educational leadership and direction to academic departments, public school systems, and faculty members driving both organizational and student excellence. She has offered her leadership experience in delivering high quality education standards to students across private and public school settings. She is also a trained psychologist who brings her experience in a variety of settings to her new position. Dr. Michelle Eisan-Smith has been working with Deaf individuals and their families for over a decade. She is a graduate of Gallaudet University and earned her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology. Her previous research focused on assessment of interpersonal relations and at-risk behavior in deaf adolescents. Dr. Eisan-Smith is a licensed psychologist with over 15 years of clinical experience working with Deaf and hard of hearing individuals across ages and settings. For the past five years, Dr. Eisan-Smith has been a school administrator at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf.


Snowden International School
Raquel Martinez, Head of School

A “teacher at heart”, Ms. Martinez has worked as an ELA teacher for over ten years in public, private, charter, and international schools across middle, high school, and collegiate levels. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Saint Joseph’s College in Brooklyn, NY in Secondary Education, a Master of Arts from Queens College in English Literature and Master of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. At the core of her leadership philosophy is the importance of relationships and community. As a proud Dominican-American from an underserved community in Brooklyn, NY, she understands on a personal level what an equalizer education can be on the lives of students, and is committed to supporting educators in consistently exposing students to the grade-level curriculum they deserve.


Maurice J. Tobin K-8 School
Dr. Natasha Halfkenny, Interim Principal

Dr. Halfkenny has worked for Boston Public Schools for 21 years in several capacities. She has worked as an educator, a teacher lead, facilitator for the 10 Boys/10 Girls Initiative, Interim Vice Principal, a Director of Instruction and most recently, an Interim Principal. Through her various positions, Dr. Halfkenny has provided leadership and support to her colleagues. She is communicable, reflective and transparent. Her willingness to listen and provide input for implementation of new initiatives and best practices allows all voices to be heard and valued. Her passion for student success is irrefutable. She is driven by continuous academic progress and strong social relationships with students, families and school communities. Dr. Halfkenny’s ability to bring teams together to improve curriculum, culturally responsive instruction and equitable literacy initiatives demonstrates the skills and attributes of progressive leadership. She lives in the Boston community and is committed to an anti-deficit view of school transformations. Her service to the Boston community, students, families and staff has proven effective and successful during this challenging time for educators.


James P. Timilty Middle School
Marvin Gutierrez, Interim Principal

Mr. Gutierrez, who is bilingual in Spanish and English, is a former BPS student and graduate of the John D. O’Bryant. He continued his training in mathematics and science and has taught for almost two decades in Boston, Baltimore, and at an area independent school. He has participated in shared leadership as a mathematics department chair, served on instructional leadership teams, engaged in curriculum development, school governance, and coordinated social justice and multicultural programming. A lifelong learner, Mr. Gutierrez has been engaged in doctoral studies and is an alumnus of Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a Master of Science in the Learning Sciences and Technologies, Boston University with a Master of Education, and the University of Rhode Island with a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and secondary education. He has been engaged in continuous learning and completed the Commonwealth Leadership Academy. Mr. Gutierrez's robust math and science background will complement the expertise of the Timilty’s leadership team.

Lee Academy Pilot School
Alexandre Chery, Interim Principal

Mr. Chery most recently served as a principal fellow from the Boston College Lynch Leadership Academy program at the Phineas Bates Elementary School in Roslindale during the 2020-21 school year. While there, Mr. Chery led instructional work by providing educators with feedback on their teaching, leading instructional teams, and reviewing curricula. He increased family involvement through equity affinity groups and facilitated race and equity dialog among staff. In addition to his time at the Bates, Mr. Chery has experience teaching at the elementary level in the Boston Public Schools. Mr. Chery is a graduate of Boston College’s Lynch Leadership Academy, holds a Masters of Education from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and a Bachelors of Science in Finance from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.



In addition to welcoming our new school leaders for the 2021-22 school year, BPS would also like to acknowledge and welcome back school leaders who are bringing their expertise to new schools. Elvis Henriquez and Dr. Jerleen John will lead new school communities this school year. 

Brief biographies of these school leaders are below:

Excel High School
Dr. Jerleen John, Interim Head of School

Dr. John is a long-time leader in Boston Public Schools and has served in several roles throughout her career in Boston, including time previously at Excel. She has most recently supported the planning and opening of the BPS COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic for Educators and worked in the BPS Finance Office. Along with her role in BPS Central Office, Dr. John has worked in public education for more than 17 years, including extensive experience as Program Director at English High School, Assistant Head of School at Excel High School, and Head of School for West Roxbury Academy. Dr. John is a visionary leader and has demonstrated a commitment to the belief in the potential of all students; she has recruited, hired, trained, developed, and retained diverse staff to create an educational team that meets the learning needs of all students in the school, including students with disabilities and English Language Learners.
Jackson-Man K-8 School
Elvis Henriquez, Principal

Mr. Henriquez immigrated to the United States when he was in high school. He has worked as an educator in Boston for over 20 years. He has taught mathematics in grades 8-12 to general education and English Learner students in the Boston Public Schools for 15 years. During the 2015-2016 school year, Mr. Henriquez was a member of the Lynch Leadership Academy at Boston College, serving as a principal fellow. Since 2016 he has served as the principal of the McCormack Middle School. Central to his mission-driven approach to the work of supporting students and families is his why. “As a student, I was supported and pushed to graduate high school in less than three years after entering this country without knowing a word of English. The hard work and support that I received resulted in an academic scholarship to Boston College. I want stories like mine to become so common that they turn into the norm for every student, whether they are new to this country or have lived here their entire lives.”