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Terry Dade will be Rochester's next superintendent 

School district officials have confirmed that the Rochester school board has selected Terry Dade as the next superintendent of the Rochester City School District. Dade is currently an assistant superintendent for the Fairfax County Public Schools in Falls Church, Virginia, a district with 180,000 students.

Dade will sign his contract at an upcoming school board meeting, according to a statement from the school district. He will start work on July 1.

Dade was born in Washington, DC, grew up in Section 8 housing and was raised by his father – a DC police officer – and his grandfather. He has master’s degrees from Trinity University in school administration and  from the University of Virginia in elementary education. He says he will receive his doctorate in education policy from Virginia Tech this month.

He has spent much of his career working in the Washington, DC, area, starting as a teacher in Albemarle County and Alexandria, Virginia, elementary schools. He was a principal in the District of Columbia school system, where he served under then-Chancellor Michelle Rhee, the controversial education reform advocate. And he has been principal of two Title 1 schools in Fairfax County.

In his current position in Virginia, he is responsible for coaching and evaluating principals and implementing school improvement plans in a part of the district that serves 37,000 students, according to information provided by the Rochester district. His section of the Fairfax school district is the most diverse in the area, he told Rochester school board members during one of their interviews with him. Forty percent of the students are Hispanic, 30 percent white, 10 percent black.


For the Rochester position, the school board chose Dade over three other finalists: Devon Horton, chief of schools, Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Kentucky (101,000 students); Sito Narcisse, chief of schools for Metro Nashville Public Schools (86,000 students), and George Eric Thomas, chief turnaround officer for the Georgia State Board of Education. All four candidates appeared at a public forum the school board held earlier this month.

At the forum, Dade said he was particularly impressed by Rochester’s excellent pre-kindergarten program, but he said he also was struck by the low reading proficiency levels of Rochester's second graders. Addressing that problem would be a priority, he said.

“Culture,” he said, trumps “strategy.” Plans are important, he said, but the culture of a school has to be positive and inspiring. Leaders need to model what they hope to see in teachers, parents, and students, he said.

He said he would insist on a common and consistently implemented district-wide curriculum, because Rochester students change schools often, which puts them at risk of falling behind.

He said the experience with Rhee had been important to him, and he appreciated some of her positions on education. She didn’t accept complacency, he said.

The school district's video of the Rochester school board's hour and a half interview with Dade is available here.

In an interview earlier today, Mayor Lovely Warren said, “We have switched leaders before and I’m not confident that by switching leaders we will change the outcomes for our children. The bottom line is we have a system that is in crisis and the system needs to change.”

WXXI's James Brown and Randy Gorbman contributed to the reporting on this article.

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