STCM Q&A: April Knox, Managing Director of School Support

June 25, 2015

Q: What is your background? How did you get here?
A: My career in education began as a classroom teacher. I got into leadership when I was selected for New Leaders for New Schools Chicago in 2004. After a year serving as Resident Principal at Dvorak Math and Science Academy, I became principal for Earle Elementary, a K-8 Chicago Public School in the Englewood neighborhood. In 2006, I had the opportunity to open Bronzeville Lighthouse Charter School and was principal there for 4 years. I continued working Lighthouse Academies, moving up to Regional Vice-President of the Midwest Region where I managed instructional and operational programs and coached school Principals in Illinois and Wisconsin. In 2011, I received the opportunity to work as the Senior Director of Uplift Education, where I planned and managed the opening of three new schools in Fort Worth, TX. I arrived at STCM in 2013 as a School Leadership Coach, and in 2014 became Director of Coaching.

Q: What do you do for STCM? What’s your role?
A: I am the Managing Director of School Support. Essentially, that means I lead our amazing coaching team in providing the correct supports to our schools. These supports can vary from coaching to resource sharing. I’m also responsible for overseeing and leading the program strategy for our coaching team, school selection and managing some of our external partnerships.

Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: The best part of my job is working with our coaching team and being able to support their direct work in schools. It is rewarding every day to be part of a team that is so smart, committed and fun. Even on our worst days, we are able to find sunshine in our work because it directly impacts the lives of the children in the schools we serve. I enjoy the STCM team at-large, and am grateful to be a part of this movement.

Q: Stepping into the Managing Director of School Support role, what will be different about your job?
A: This shift will allow me to spend more focused time on strengthening our coaching strategy and coaching our coaches. There will also be the added – and welcomed – challenge of stretching myself outside of my natural comfort zone in my work with supporting external partnerships. This is somewhat bittersweet, since it means I’ll be coaching less. However I will still be doing a small amount of coaching, which is a great source of joy for me and keeps me solidly connected to the work.

Q: What is in store for STCM in the future?
A: Focus. We are using all of our learnings form the past few years to focus our coaching, focus our strategy and focus our talents. This is not germane to the coaching team, but seems to be an emerging theme for our entire STCM team and that excites me.

Q: What are you most excited about for next school year?
A: I’m excited to spend more time in the field alongside our coaches. When I was also coaching, it was more difficult to accomplish this in a meaningful way.

April Knox has a B.A. in Psychology/Sociology from Drake University, a M.S. in Elementary Education from Western Illinois University, and a M.S. in School Leadership from National Louis University. She is the mother to an amazing pair of twins.


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