Tyler Ream, who supervises 38 Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, said Monday he’s leaving that job to become principal of one of them.
If the school board approves him as principal of Albemarle Road Elementary School, Ream said, he’ll make the switch on July 1, stepping down as zone superintendent for high-poverty elementary schools.
“It’s definitely 100 percent my decision,” Ream said of the move down the career ladder. He was an elementary school teacher and principal in Tustin, Calif., before then-Superintendent Peter Gorman, hired from that district, brought Ream to Charlotte as his chief of staff in 2007.
“I’ve missed kids tremendously. There’s a difference between working for kids and working with kids,” Ream said. “I’ve been waiting for that feeling to go away and it hasn’t. It’s gotten worse and worse and worse.”
Ream was named zone superintendent for schools in southern Mecklenburg County in 2009. In 2010, when Gorman created separate administrative zones for schools with poverty levels of 75 percent or higher, Ream was shifted to the Central Elementary Zone. Those schools all get federal Title I money and share academic challenges associated with family poverty.
When he started the job, Ream told his principals he was giving himself three years to significantly reduce the performance gap between his schools and more affluent ones. Some have made strong progress. In 2011, CMS won the Broad Prize for Urban Education, a national award highlighting the most improved urban district. But many remain well below the district average, especially on state reading exams.
“I’m excited to see what another leader can do with this zone,” said Ream, who will report to whomever is named to replace him.
Albemarle Road Elementary has more than 1,100 students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade; most are Hispanic and African-American students from low-income homes. With enrollment in its east Charlotte zone growing rapidly, the school is using 27 mobile classrooms.
Parents and faculty have complained to the school board that the crowding creates stress and chaos, and have worried about the transition when Principal Leah Davis leaves to take over Torrence Creek Elementary.
Ream said he asked for that assignment. “I want to work really hard for a group of students that want someone working really hard for them,” he said.
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