Education Entrepreneurs Fellowship
The Education Entrepreneurs Fellowship is a two-year leadership development program designed to equip experienced school leaders with the entrepreneurial and transformational management skills needed to start high performing charter schools that either replace low-performing district schools or provide additional educational options in high-need areas throughout the state. Through a combination of residencies, visits to exceptional schools, executive leadership coaching, targeted training workshops, and application support, EE Fellows gain the knowledge and skills needed to design and launch their own public charter schools in Tennessee.
We are not currently accepting applications for the Education Entrepreneurs Fellowship.
A native of New Jersey, Michael Brown earned his BA in Psychology from Hampton University. After graduating, he spent the next 13 years advocating for high quality education for inner-city children, focused on uplifting communities through empowerment of school families. Following a six-year stint teaching middle school English and History in Virginia, an opportunity to serve as the founding 8th grade History teacher at KIPP Academy Lynn took Michael to Boston. At KIPP Academy Lynn, he held the varied roles of teacher, Director of Multicultural and Community Affairs, and Assistant Principal. During his time at KIPP Academy Lynn, Michael also earned his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Boston College, which increased his sense of urgency about education reform. Motivated by the struggle for education reform in Memphis, Brown joined the community in the summer of 2013. Along with his wife and two children, Michael brings to Memphis a wealth of educational knowledge and experience and a desire to educate and empower students to become the next generation of leaders at the local, state, and national levels.
LaKendra Butler holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Social Work from the University of Texas – Austin, and a Master’s degree in Education Administration & Supervision from National Louis University. Butler’s career in education began in 2005 as a corps member with Teach for America in Atlanta, Georgia, where she taught Civics, Law, and Geography at Booker T. Washington High School. After fulfilling her two year commitment, she started teaching fifth and eighth grade Social Studies and assumed the role of eighth grade level chair at KIPP TRUTH Academy in Dallas, Texas. At the end of her first year at KIPP TRUTH Academy, 100% of the eighth graders passed the state Social Studies test. Butler participated in the KIPP School Leadership Pathways program and became KIPP TRUTH’s first Assistant Principal. She continued her role as a fifth grade Social Studies teacher and Assistant Principal for the next three years. During her third year as the Assistant Principal, she became the School Leader and held both roles simultaneously, but eventually transitioned into the School Leader role full-time. During her tenure as a teacher, Assistant Principal, and School Leader, KIPP TRUTH Academy continued to be a “Recognized” school (based on Texas’ rating system) and continued to outperform the district in several subject areas. During her final year with KIPP, Butler transitioned into the Director of KIPP Through College role where she led the KIPP Through College Managers and developed a strategic plan for KIPP Through College in addition to supporting several departments throughout KIPP Dallas Ft. Worth.
Dr. Darian C. Jones
Dr. Darian C. Jones served as founding principal of the first small high school complex in Atlanta, Georgia, in which he oversaw the cohort graduation rate move from 14.7% to 91% with the first graduating class. The 2009 legacy class raised over $6,000,000 in academic scholarships, served in six international communities, with 100% attending two or four year colleges around the country. With over 15 years of secondary principal and central office experience, Dr. Jones is ready to serve the Memphis community and help create a model of excellent secondary education. Dr. Jones is a graduate of Tulane University and received his doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is an active member of Kappa Alpha Psi and is an avid reader and child advocate. He has two beautiful daughters and thinks the title of dad is the best and most accountable title he has ever held.
Bob Nardo is in his tenth year of service helping to open and operate high-performing urban schools. Most recently, Bob served as founding Chief Operating Officer of the Tennessee Achievement School District, where he led the finance, facilities, data and technology, HR, enrollment and school operations teams in creating world-class support services intended to make TN the best environment in the country to run a charter school. Previously, Bob served in similar roles at TEAM Schools – a KIPP Region in Newark, NJ – and the Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago. Bob’s classroom experience includes conducting high school philosophy seminars, elementary guided reading groups, and directing a middle school rock band. Bob earned a BA at American University and an MA at the University of Chicago, where his research on charter school effects on public schools earned the social science division award for best theses. Bob and his wife Sara live on a small homestead in Memphis with their three children.
A native of South Carolina and a graduate of the University of Georgia, Jon S. Robertson is an enthusiastic new Nashville resident whose commitment to education reform has enabled him to work in a variety of cities and school situations. Robertson joined Teach for America in 2005, where he was assigned to teach middle school social studies in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami. During his four years in Miami, Jon worked under three different school leaders and saw how the numerous leadership changes negatively impacted the school and student outcomes. In 2009, Jon began teaching at Gary Comer College Prep (GCCP), a campus of the Noble Network of Charter Schools in the Grand Crossing neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. He was promoted to Dean of Discipline in 2010, a position he held until 2012, the year of GCCP’s first graduating class. Jon then accepted the opportunity to lead KIPP Renaissance High School (KRHS) in New Orleans, LA. In just one year, the school saw remarkable cultural and academic improvement, including ACT growth 3X the national average. Jon looks forward to drawing upon his experiences to help improve the educational landscape for students in Nashville.