The Des Moines Public School District has selected the NYC Leadership Academy to build the capacity of school-based equity coaches to support implementation of the district’s equity plan. As part of a larger district initiative, the Leadership Academy will support efforts to develop culturally proficient leaders and educators by creating a comprehensive equity-focused learning system.

“DMPS is committed to successfully serving each of our 33,000 students, who come from more than 100 nations and speak more than 100 languages,” said Superintendent Thomas Ahart. “We believe that our diversity strengthens us; however, opportunity gaps – which often result in achievement gaps – persist for several of our subpopulations. The NYC Leadership Academy was selected as a key partner in this work because of their demonstrated expertise, systems perspective, and, perhaps most important, a belief in the importance of this work that matches ours. Our work together will accelerate our progress in developing our ability to work effectively in our cross-cultural context to eradicate our achievement gaps and characterize our differences as strengths from which we can grow rather than as barriers that must be overcome.”

Said Leadership Academy CEO & President Irma Zardoya, “Developing strong leaders is crucial for achieving equity. By investing in its school leaders, Des Moines is saying loud and clear that schools can no longer tolerate inequities, and that leaders are the levers for change. We are proud to be a part of these efforts.”

Over the next three years, the Leadership Academy will facilitate professional learning through in-person, job-embedded sessions and small group coaching, with the goal of arming a group of equity coaches with the skills to develop and support equity work in Des Moines schools. The equity coaches will learn

  • Critical leadership skills, including setting and communicating a vision, leading teams, and analyzing data to identify root causes of disproportionality.
  • How systemic structures undergird disproportionality and how to change them.
  • To identify culturally responsive and effective practices in teaching and learning for struggling learners
  • How to coach colleagues effectively to change behaviors and align instructional practice to the district’s vision.
  • To assess equity-related learning needs of colleagues and develop and facilitate effective professional learning to help meet those needs.
  • How to talk about race and to effectively facilitate difficult conversations about race.

The largest school district in Iowa with 33,000 students, Des Moines Public Schools joined 60 other school systems in the Council of Great City Schools in 2014 in pledging to improve the academic and social outcomes of boys and young men of color.