As we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we want to acknowledge and honor the contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders in the charter school community. In our sector, there are remarkable AAPI school leaders who have dedicated their lives to creating transformative learning environments. In this blog post, we highlight four exemplary school leaders in the National Alliance’s School Leaders of Color cohort making a profound impact on their respective communities: Monique Daviss, Richard Lee, Christina Perry, and Amber Leon Guerrero.
Monique Daviss: Guiding Students Towards Excellence
Monique Daviss, the Executive Director of El Sol Science and Arts Academy in Santa Ana, California, possesses over 17 years of experience in charter school leadership. Under her guidance since 2005, El Sol has flourished, both in size and academic achievement. The school has received numerous accolades, including being named a Bright Spot Awardee by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and the California Charter School of the Year. El Sol’s dedication to bilingual education and commitment to student success have earned them the California Association for Bilingual Educators Seal of Excellence Award. Monique Daviss’s leadership exemplifies the power of innovation, inclusivity, and academic excellence.
“Being an Asian American charter school leader means that I can continue my immigrant father’s legacy of resiliency and hope. His education was interrupted as a child prisoner of war in Indonesia. His goal was that his own children would have the best education possible. As a charter leader, I have the privilege of engaging with a diverse community of learners who are focused on quality, opportunity, resiliency and always, hope.”
– Monique Daviss, executive director of El Sol Science and Arts Academy
Richard Lee: Breaking Barriers through Education
Richard Lee, Chief Academic Officer of Our World Neighborhood Charter Schools in New York City, courageously switched career paths from law to education to reach where he is today. After almost a decade working legal-related jobs, Richard decided he wanted to fulfill a deep desire to make a meaningful impact on the lives of children enrolled in Bank Street College of Education. Inspired by his own upbringing, Richard is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty for children. His commitment to equity and social justice serves as a guiding force in shaping educational experiences that empower students to overcome obstacles and realize their full potential.
Christina Perry: Empowering Young Women through Education
Christina Perry, founder of the proposed Kwenda Collegiate Girls Charter School in New York City, has a passion for empowering young women through education. Her journey in the field of education began as a special education teacher for Teach for America, and she later held significant roles such as Chief Community Officer for Purpose Built Schools Atlanta and Chief of Staff at UP Education Network. Kwenda Collegiate Girls aims to provide a high-quality educational option for families seeking a single-gender preparatory setting. By placing the needs of young women at the center, Christina Perry’s vision strives to create an empowering environment that nurtures and equips girls with the tools for success.
Amber Leon Guerrero: Unleashing Homegrown Leaders
Amber Leon Guerrero, the Chief Student Success Officer at DreamHouse ‘Ewa Beach, Hawaii’s newest charter school, is on a mission to empower homegrown leaders. Through values-driven leadership development, bold 21st-century skill building, and a deep commitment to the island community, Amber and Dreamhouse are determined to create a better future. As a fellow of the Equity Lab’s Nexus cohort, she advocates for racial equity and social justice, believing that these principles are essential for raising consciousness and ensuring the thriving of all youth. Amber’s unwavering dedication to student success and her passion for equity are shaping a transformative educational experience at DreamHouse.
During AAPI Heritage Month, it is crucial to recognize the exceptional contributions of AAPI school leaders who are shaping the future of education. Monique Daviss, Richard Lee, Christina Perry, and Amber Leon Guerrero are just a few examples of inspiring individuals who have dedicated their careers to creating educational environments that uplift and empower students. Their visionary leadership, commitment to equity, and unwavering dedication to student success serve as beacons of inspiration for educators and learners alike. As we celebrate AAPI Heritage Month, let us honor and appreciate these remarkable leaders who are making a significant impact on the lives of countless students and shaping the landscape of education for generations to come.
Kayley Pham is the coordinator of social and digital media for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.