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Friday, June 22, 2018

Superintendent Chang Appoints New Leader to Oversee District’s Academics and Student Supports for Equity Team

Superintendent Chang Appoints New Leader to Oversee District’s Academics and Student Supports for Equity Team
Veteran Educator Has Long History of Advocating for Underserved Students
BOSTON — Friday, June 22, 2018 — Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Tommy Chang announced today that he has appointed Matt Montaño, the deputy cabinet secretary for Teaching and Learning at the New Mexico Public Education Department, as the district’s new deputy superintendent of Academics and Student Supports for Equity Team, known as ASSET.

Montaño, who has been responsible for establishing equitable access for New Mexico's underserved learners through leading the implementation of the state’s equity plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, will take over the position of overseeing the Boston Public Schools’ ASSET division that was previously held by Karla Estrada. Dr. Estrada, who helped develop and oversee ASSET for the past three years, left BPS in April to take on a new role as the director of education for the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence, a statewide agency.

“Matt’s commitment to inclusion and his background championing the underserved student makes him the ideal person to carry on the important work of moving ASSET forward,” Dr. Chang said. “As a district, we are deeply committed to closing opportunity and achievement gaps. It is critical that we ensure all of our students have access to rigorous instruction and engage in culturally and linguistically sustaining learning experiences. This is fundamental in our mission of preparing all of our students for college, career, and life.”

Superintendent Chang formed the ASSET division as a way to create better integration and collaboration between what were once siloed offices by bringing them all together under one framework to better enhance the district’s mission of promoting equity, coherence, and innovation. The division includes the offices of Academics and Professional Learning; Opportunity and Achievement Gaps; Special Education; Social Emotional Learning and Wellness; and English Learners.

The ASSET division spearheaded the district’s efforts to transform teaching and learning by creating an instructional vision to ensure 100 percent of BPS students graduate prepared for college, career, and life. Underpinning that vision has been the development last year of the “BPS Essentials for Instructional Equity,” led by a cross-functional team under ASSET.

The Essentials are a set of researched-based educator “competencies,” or performance expectations, that are necessary to effectively facilitate next-generation learning for diverse learners. In creating them, the team focused on research and instructional guidance targeted to support students of color, English-language learners, students with disabilities and students of low socioeconomic status. The Essentials will serve as a tool to align professional learning across the district.

The BPS Essentials for Instructional Equity is comprised of four competencies:
  • Create and Maintain Safe, Healthy and Sustaining Learning Environments
  • Design Learning Experiences for Access and Agency
  • Facilitate Cognitively Demanding Tasks and Instruction
  • Assess for Learning

One of ASSET’s offices, Social Emotional Learning and Wellness or SELWell — believed to be the first of its kind in the country for an urban school district — was created by Dr. Chang to promote the growth of the whole child and reduce health inequities that interfere with learning and disproportionately impact low-income youth of color, contributing to them missing school. The office led the implementation of the BPS Wellness Policy, recognized nationally as one of the most comprehensive in the country, to ensure all BPS schools provide safe, healthy, and sustaining learning environments.

The Office of Opportunity and Achievement Gaps, while under ASSET, has overseen the successful launch of Excellence for All, a program that Dr. Chang envisioned in his 100-Day Plan, released in July 2015. The trailblazing initiative provides all interested 4th and 5th grade students — and starting next fall 6th-graders — in 13 pilot schools access to the same rigorous coursework and enriching learning opportunities traditionally afforded those in the Advanced Work Class program, in which student admission is based on their performance on a standardized test.

Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto said that Montaño’s background is well-suited for overseeing the diverse focus areas of ASSET and promoting the district’s values.

“Throughout his career, Mr. Montaño has always sought to create equity for students with disabilities, English Learners, and economically disadvantaged children,” he said. “We are thrilled that he will bring to Boston his longtime passion and commitment to improving access for underserved students, improving professional learning for the teachers who serve them, and reshaping policies that put the student’s best interests first.”

As an executive with the New Mexico Public Education Department, Montaño oversaw seven divisions and bureaus while leading the state’s implementation of the NMTEACH teacher support system, in which he established models to increase equitable access of New Mexico’s most underserved students to the most effective teachers. Since 2015, New Mexico has seen inequitable access almost disappear through strategic work with districts and charters.

Montaño holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of New Mexico, a graduate certification in Special Education from the College of Santa Fe, and a Master in Educational Leadership from the College of Santa Fe.  

He began his educational career as a substitute teacher in 1994 before becoming a paraprofessional, and then a special education teacher for 10 years in the Bernalillo Public Schools in Bernalillo, New Mexico, a small town of 8,320 residents located 20 miles north of Albuquerque. The community is made up of 92 percent minorities, including 42 percent Native Americans (mostly Puebloans) and 50 percent Latinos.

As a special education inclusion teacher, he advocated getting his students access to the state assessment system and helped establish a pre-Advanced Placement program that prioritized access to Bernalillo’s Native American students.

He left the classroom in 2006 to become an assistant middle school principal and athletic director before serving as principal of Bernalillo High School from 2009 to 2011. During his tenure as principal, he led efforts that saw math achievement more than double and reading proficiency rise by 8 percent, while out-of-school suspensions dropped by 400 percent. He also established the district’s first Restorative Justice program, and a holistic behavior program model for helping students work through trauma while continuing their academic engagement.

In 2011, he was appointed as the division director for Teaching and Learning for the New Mexico Public Education Department. In 2017, he was promoted to deputy cabinet secretary.

Montaño said he is excited to come to Boston, the birthplace of public education, to work on a collaborative, equity-centered team within BPS.

“I am deeply committed to inclusion in the classroom and high standards for all students. This is what has long inspired me to advocate for students who have been traditionally underserved, such as those I’ve long served in New Mexico who come from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds,” he said. “I look forward to joining the Boston Public Schools and working with so many talented teachers, principals, and staff to ensure that all of the city’s children have equitable access to an excellent education.”

Montaño, who is a member of Chiefs for Change, a diverse, bipartisan network of some of the nation's boldest, most innovative state and district education leaders, received a Recognition for Behavioral Health award from former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson for organizing wrap-around behavioral health services for students from the Santo Domingo Pueblo tribe. He also was honored three years in a row (2008-2010) as the “Most Influential Educator” by top graduating seniors from Bernalillo High School for his impact on them when he was a middle school teacher.

National and New Mexico educational leaders praised Superintendent Chang’s appointment of Montaño.

“As a former teacher, principal, and now school system leader, Matt Montaño understands what it means for Latino students to see leaders who come from the same background,” said Amanda Fernandez, CEO and founder of Latinos for Education, a Boston-based non-profit organization that advocates for the expanded presence of Latino leaders in the education sector. “As a Latino male, he has served as a role model to students and families and he has seen the profound impact of having leaders who are representative of the communities they serve. We congratulate Matt on his new role and applaud BPS for their efforts to ensure our educational leadership reflects the rich diversity of our Boston community.”

Mike Magee, CEO of Chiefs for Change, said he has been impressed with Montaño’s leadership as member of the organization’s Future Chiefs program. “He is a talented leader, a champion for teachers, and a true advocate for all children,” Magee said. “We are excited that he is joining Superintendent Tommy Chang, a member of Chiefs for Change, and his team, and know that Matt will help to build on the great work taking place in Boston’s schools.”

Alex Romero, co-chair of the New Mexico Hispanic Education Advisory Committee and former chair of the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, lauded Montaño’s high standards and deep advocacy on behalf of the students and families he served.

“Matt is passionate about strong public education. He inspires others through his work serving New Mexico's children,” Romero said. “He is a strong collaborator as he builds relationships with diverse individuals with varying opinions and political backgrounds. One of Mr. Montaño's strengths is his ability to explain difficult information in a way that is understandable to the non-practitioner.”

Superintendent Chang said he is excited to have such an experienced and dedicated educator join BPS.

“We look forward to Matt helping lead the critical work the district is doing to ensure that all students have access to 21st-century learning opportunities,” Dr. Chang said. “Boston’s youth are the future leaders of tomorrow. We must provide every student, including those who are most marginalized, the essential skills and quality education necessary to succeed in life.”

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