“If you’re going to get in the crystal ball game, you have to learn to eat some glass,” a friend remarked to me a number of years ago. Many of us in education, particularly “impatient optimists” like myself, wear our hopes on our sleeves. I recognize that talented, passionate educators who believe in the nobility and dignity of teaching and schooling are the real future for this profession, and as such, I try to get to know many of the leaders who I predict will impact the next generation and beyond.
True, it’s a bit like crystal balling, and often those very individuals for whom you have high hopes for impact miss the mark. But nevertheless, I continue searching for the current and future talent who I believe will have an enormous effect on school systems, both small and large, local and national. To that end, I offer part one of my crystal ball predictions.
I tip my hat to the young entrepreneurs that Daryl Cobb, Kevin Hall and the Charter School Growth Fund have identified and are supporting. The four individuals, whose biographies are below, represent high rates of passion, energy and early success. Are their ventures complete proof points at the moment? No. Are they learning from their mistakes? Absolutely. And in my mind, these four individuals will dot the education landscape with wider and stronger evidence of how to serve youth well. So if you’re a researcher in 2025 looking back on this post to validate my predictions, then I’m suggesting that these four individuals will be well known in the public school space. With that as a backdrop, and a second round of applause for the Charter School Growth Fund, I offer you four for the future.
Shantelle Wright is the founder and head of school at Achievement Prep in Washington, D.C. Prior to opening the school, she completed the Building Excellent Schools (BES) fellowship program. She also is a licensed attorney and practiced commercial real estate law for several years at a large, Washington firm. Shantelle received obtained her bachelor’s in sociology from Hampton University and received her law degree from The George Washington University School of Law. She is a member of the board of directors for BES, Friends of Choice in Urban Schools, and the D.C. Association of Chartered Public Schools.
Charlene Reid joined the Bronx Charter School for Excellence in Stamford, Connecticut as principal in 2007. In 2009 she was promoted to executive director Charlene started her career as an elementary teacher in Los Angeles. She moved to New York in 2001 and worked as a teacher in Harlem for 2 years. Charlene has a B.A. from UCLA, a master’s degree from Columbia University, and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in educational leadership at the University of Pennsylvania.
Prior to founding Equitas Academy in Los Angeles, Malka Borrego was the executive director for The Salvation Army-Alegria, an emergency, transitional, and permanent housing program for families with HIV/AIDS. She also has prior experience in educational research at the UCLA National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing and at the Long Beach YMCA as the operations director for an after-school literacy program for over 600 students. She has a bachelor’s in sociology from Pomona College and a master’s in social science from Stanford University’s School of Education.
In 2008, Margaret Fortune joined Fortune School of Education as president and chief executive officer. Margaret also serves as principal for William Lee College Prep. Under her leadership, Fortune School expanded to include charter schools, creating Sacramento’s only countywide charter school network. Prior to joining Fortune, Margaret held various positions, including senior advisor in the office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. She also served as a consultant to the California Charter School Association and as superintendent of St. Hope Public Schools. Margaret has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University California, Berkeley and a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.
If your travels take you to Los Angeles, Sacramento, D.C. or Stamford, you can give your sense of optimism a shot in the arm by reaching out and spending an hour with Shantelle, Charlene, Malka and Margaret.