By: Marquise McFadden
Joan Massey is the Chief Executive Officer of Chavez Schools. Her resume includes working in education over 25 years, holding a number of leadership positions in urban public and charter school organizations, and obtaining degrees from Northeastern University, American International College and the University of Massachusetts.
Things have not always been so easy, however. She has had a few setbacks on the road to her success.
“My father was a crack addict and he later became homeless,” Massey said. “That was really a tough time for me.”
Because of this experience, Massey knew how important it was for her to get a good education. Now that education has allowed her to achieve such success, she hopes to instill the same values and realizations in young people. She wants all students to graduate from high school and college, and hopes that Chavez graduates will be the next civic leaders in our society.
“I think students need to be persistent and accept failure,” Massey said. “Most of the most famous people have failed more times than they have succeeded.”
Massey credits her success to the quality mentors she had in her life. Especially, she credits her grandfather for the work he did within his community.
“My grandfather had his own business in retail, but spent much of his time volunteering and serving on boards and committees to improve his community and issues in the state and internationally,” Massey said. “He worked to improve conditions in the prisons and to expand job training opportunities for former inmates through a mentor ship program. He volunteered at a soup kitchen for twenty years and worked on a refugee program for people coming from different countries in Africa. During his lifetime he received numerous awards for all that he did in service to others.”
Massey moved to D.C. from Massachusetts to take the position as CEO at Chavez. She believes that since she joined the team, Chavez Schools has made significant progress. She has aligned the data metrics so that school leaders understand how to set up appropriate targets that were differentiated and would eliminate the achievement gap. She has been able to develop different learning methods to get all students on grade level.
“I love Chavez’s focus on public policy,” Massey said. “I feel good about where Chavez is and would like to raise the bar.”
Massey strives for some incredible goals. She would love to save the elephants from extinction. She would love to develop her passions of teaching. But most especially, ever since she became aware of the severe inequalities in the American school system, she hopes that she can play a role in equalizing educational opportunities for all students. And she knows the rewards of working with young people.
“Being around students has made me a better person,” Massey said. “I feel like I’m uplifting the next generation of leaders.”