Chief academic officer, chief of schools and chief operating officer lead realignment of district leadership structure
Today, Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph announced the first three members of his executive cabinet in naming a chief academic officer, chief of schools and chief operating officer. Under the new executive structure planned by Dr. Joseph, one additional cabinet member—chief of staff—will be named before the team officially begins work in their new roles on July 1.
The chief academic officer position is being filled by Monique Felder, Ph.D., who currently serves under Dr. Joseph in Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland as the executive director of teaching and learning. Sito Narcisse, Ed.D., has been named chief of schools. Dr. Narcisse also comes from Prince George’s County but with strong Nashville ties, having earned his master’s degree from Vanderbilt University and serving as a student teacher at Antioch High School. Current Interim Director of Schools and Chief Financial Officer Chris Henson has been appointed to serve as chief operating officer.
Chief academic officer and chief operating officer are existing positions on the district’s executive team. Each will be reshaped with a new scope of work. Chief of schools and chief of staff are newly defined positions. These changes to the district’s leadership structure result in a reduction in the number of direct reports to the director of schools from six to four.
“Our goal is to ensure we have a structure that effectively serves students, families and schools.”
— Dr. Joseph.
“The four chiefs will work closely together so that silos within the organization are broken down. The new executive team will be expected to work cross-collaboratively to give clear direction and effective supports to our school leaders, educators, staff and students.”
Dr. Felder has over 25 years of experience as an educator. She has served as a teacher, principal and a district administrator for advanced learning. She holds a bachelor’s in elementary education, a master’s with a specialization in elementary science and math and a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies. She also holds an advanced certificate in equity and excellence in education.
As chief academic officer, Dr. Felder will oversee all aspects of instruction and curriculum from prekindergarten through graduation. While this position previously oversaw principal and teacher supervision in addition to academics, it will now focus on student learning and social and emotional supports for students.
“If we are going to have real academic alignment through all grades and the highest quality instruction for all students, we need a chief who only thinks about teaching, learning and the social / emotional supports that are needed for student success.”
Dr. Narcisse’s career has taken him from teaching locally in Nashville and Williamson County to serving as a school leader in Pittsburgh City Public Schools and Boston Public Schools. He also worked on school improvement in Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland and as associate superintendent working on school improvement in Prince George’s County. He holds a bachelor’s degree in French from Kennesaw State University, a master’s from Vanderbilt in secondary education and a doctorate in educational administration, policy studies and leadership from the University of Pittsburgh.
In his role as chief of schools, Dr. Narcisse will be responsible for overseeing the mentoring, support and evaluation of all school-based administrators.
“Dr. Narcisse and Dr. Felder will bring an intentional focus on excellence and equity to Metro Schools,” said Dr. Joseph. “Their collaborative spirits and propensity for research-based practices will strengthen our strategic plans.”
“They both possess the passion and sense of urgency needed to ensure that all kids receive high-quality learning opportunities. We are fortunate to be adding two highly-skilled equity leaders to our team.”
Henson has been with Metro Schools since 2002, serving as chief financial officer and twice as interim director of schools. He became the interim nearly one year ago, in July of 2015, and previously served in the role in 2008. Under his leadership, MNPS was the first district in Tennessee to be awarded the Meritorious Budget Award for Excellence by the Association of School Business Officials. Before coming to Nashville, he served as CFO for Franklin Special Schools and Sumner County Schools. His expertise in school finance and operations is unmatched in Tennessee. He has served on the State Board of Education’s Basic Education Program (BEP) Review Committee for over 15 years, recently served as a member of the Governor’s BEP Task Force, and is a past president of the Tennessee Association of School Business Officials. He began his career with Deloitte and holds a bachelor’s in accounting and business administration from Trevecca Nazarene University.
As chief operating officer, Henson will continue to oversee the district’s finances but also take on an expansion of his current responsibilities, overseeing all operational and business aspects of the district.
“Mr. Henson is a proven leader, and I thank him for serving so well as interim director of schools,” said Dr. Joseph.
“This realignment allows us to streamline business operations and provide better services and supports to schools and communities.”
Additional staff announcements will come later this summer, including a full organizational chart expected in July.
Sito Narcisse, Ed.D.
Chief of Schools
Dr. Sito Narcisse personally understands the challenge of being a young student trying to learn English and living between two cultures, all while navigating the American public education system. The son of Haitian immigrants, Dr. Narcisse’s family moved to Long Island, NY, in the pursuit of a better life for him and his siblings.
As an English language learner, Dr. Narcisse learned to navigate both the social and academic obstacles that confront millions of New American students today. His success as a student led him to enroll at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. Seeing his second language as a strength, Dr. Narcisse graduated with a degree in French and pursued a Master’s Degree from Vanderbilt University in Secondary Education.
Dr. Narcisse was a student teacher at Antioch High School in the Metro Nashville Public Schools prior to teaching French in Williamson County Public Schools (TN). Doctoral studies led him to Pittsburgh where he earned a Doctorate in Educational Administration and Policy Studies and Leadership from the University of Pittsburgh.
Dr. Narcisse has been a teacher, a principal—opening a high school in the Pittsburgh Public Schools and leading turnaround efforts in the Boston Public School system—a Director of School Performance and Acting Chief School Improvement Officer for Montgomery County Public Schools (MD), and an Associate Superintendent overseeing school improvement efforts for 74 schools in Prince George’s County Public Schools (MD). His laser-like focus on creating equitable schools has resulted in improvements in graduation rates, the establishment of two International Schools for English Language Learners, and increased achievement in schools he has supervised.
Monique Felder, Ph.D.
Chief Academic Officer
Growing up in the culturally-rich community of Queens, NY, Dr. Monique Felder learned quickly that schools may have children of different backgrounds and cultures within them, but all children within those schools are not given an equal invitation, access, or opportunities to experience and engage in rigorous programs. After graduating from York College with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, she set herself on a path to answer the equity call that was placed upon her heart.
Dr. Felder went on to earn a Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins University with a specialization in elementary science and mathematics and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Dr. Felder has pursued post-doctoral studies at McDaniel College earning an advanced certificate in Equity and Excellence in Education.
Over the course of the past 25 years, Dr. Felder has been a classroom teacher, a principal—being recognized by the International Reading Association’s Award for Exemplary Reading Programs in the state of Maryland during the 2004-2005 school year—a Director of Accelerated and Enriched Instruction for Montgomery County Public Schools (MD), and the Executive Director for Teaching and Learning within Prince George’s County Public Schools (MD).
In 2015, she co-authored Increasing Diversity in Gifted Education: Research Based Strategies for Identification and Program Services. In all of her roles, Dr. Felder has sought to raise levels of expectation from both students and staff to ensure that students’ innate potential and innate gifts are identified, valued, and maximized.
Chief Operating Officer
The son of a music teacher, Mr. Chris Henson learned early in life the importance of a great education and the hard work required by educators to provide it. He graduated with honors from Trevecca University.
After starting his career in the private sector with Deloitte, Mr. Henson found his calling in public education. He served as the Associate Director of Schools for Finance and Administration for the Franklin Special School District (TN) and as the Budget and Finance Director and Interim Director of Schools for Sumner County Schools (TN) prior to joining Metro Nashville Public Schools in 2002 as Chief Financial Officer.
Mr. Henson was appointed by the Board of Education in July 2015 to serve as the Interim Director of Schools—a role he previously served in from January of 2008 until January of 2009.
Under his leadership, Metro Schools implemented an innovative Student-Based Budgeting model, which directs dollars to schools based on students’ needs rather than positions, giving school leaders more direct control over programming. His stewardship for ensuring taxpayer resources are directed to best serve students led Metro Schools to be the first school district in Tennessee to be awarded the Meritorious Budget Award for Excellence by the Association of School Business Officials International.
Mr. Henson is a member of the Governor’s Basic Education Program (BEP) Task Force, the State Board of Education’s Basic Education Program (BEP) Review Committee, Tennessee Association of School Business Officials (Past President), Council of the Great City Schools, Trevecca University President’s Advisory Council, and The Tennessee Credit Union Board of Directors.