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Former L.A. Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will serve as California’s After School STEM ambassador, and host after-school STEM events through 2013 to speak about education. He has promoted STEM ed and careers through his Skyhook Foundation since 2009.



National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel announced a $500,000 challenge grant toward expanding a successful New Jersey Education Association program nationwide to help increase the number of certified science and math teachers in schools.

Superintendent Myrrha Satow, center, meets with EdVantages management staff in Columbus, Ohio, in their weekly team meeting to discuss academic progress of special ed students. From left to right: Wendy Samir, special ed director, Satow, Amber Cummings, school psychologist.

For an hour and 15 minutes every day, 2,000 students at EdVantages charter schools in Ohio and 1.000 students in Performance Academies charter schools in Ohio and Florida expend physical energy. More specifically, they rotate playing tennis, playing soccer and practicing martial arts a week at a time. For the rest of the six hours and 45 minutes in their school day, they study math, reading, social studies and science.

Vallas Heads to Conn.

After serving as superintendent in New Orleans, Paul Vallas was hired as interim superintendent at Bridgeport (Conn.) Public Schools. Vallas began on Jan. 2 and has been charged with developing a turnaround plan for the district within a year.

A Better Budget

After finding that the state’s predicted revenues were higher than originally projected due to employment gains, Colo. Gov. John Hickenlooper proposed restoring $89 million to the K12 education budget next year, which he had originally planned to cut.

From Intel to Ariz.Craig Barrett

Craig Barrett, former Intel chief executive officer, was appointed in December to the Arizona Ready Education Council by Gov. Jan Brewer. Barrett would like Arizona to adopt the Common Core State Standards and reform teacher training and pay.

In 2009, a year after joining Illinois School District U-46 from his previous post as regional superintendent for Chicago Public Schools’ Area 14, Jose M. Torres made unprecedented cuts to his district’s budget and personnel.

Typical public school revenue streams such as state money and property taxes were decimated by the recession nationwide, and districts across Chicago faced deficits worse than U-46’s anticipated $60 million hole in the coming years. It wasn’t a surprise that cuts in U-46 were necessary, but Torres’ tactics were.

As a 20-something, Anthony "Tony" Smith had fulfilled one dream: playing professional football for the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers. Next up, he thought, was law school. But a former mentor who had worked with him and other student-athletes at his alma mater, the University of California at Berkeley, intervened. "She said, 'I don't know why you don't this see, Tony. You're a teacher,'" recalls Smith, who used to help his Cal teammates with schoolwork.

William Mayes is in his seventh year as the executive director of the Michigan Association of School Administrators and the president of the Association of State Executives (ASE ). He is a former superintendent of North Huron Schools, a consolidated district of two communities—Kinde and Port Austin—and of the Huron Intermediate School District, a service agency. We spoke with him after a July ASE meeting in Mystic, Conn.

The editors at DA have been taking advantage of a little extra time that a double issue affords us, talking to our readers at various conferences across the country, as well as checking in with industry experts as we plan our upcoming content. After all, summertime is a time for renewal.

Frank Costanzo

Frank Costanzo has proven his effectiveness and dedication given his latest test on April 27. Costanzo, superintendent of the Tuscaloosa County (Ala.) School System for seven years, had seen many storms and tornadoes hit his district, but this was by far the worst. On the evening of April 27, just minutes after an F4 tornado ripped through the Holt area of Tuscaloosa County, Costanzo partnered with emergency personnel and opened a shelter at Holt Elementary School, whose roof was damaged but not its gymnasium, and set up a communications center.