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Meeting Learners Where They Live

Josh Solomon's "M.O." has been to speak to students' interests. He'll bring the same approach to board service at TC.
Everyone talks about teaching to students’ interests. The Business of Sports School (BOSS), founded by Josh Solomon in 2009, is devoted to that premise. “We serve many students who have not done well in middle school and are not interested in aca¬demics,” says Solomon (Ed.D. ’09), who previously cofounded another school, East-West School of International Studies in Queens. “So we wanted to create a school that would really engage them and also provide them with real skills. Some go on to have careers in sports business, but all are prepared for business careers of some kind.”

Solomon worked in investment banking before switching careers, but his pragmatic approach to education was substantially shaped at Teachers College, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation on TC’s Sum¬mer Principals Academy (SPA): “SPA is unique in that it prepares teachers to be prin¬cipals without taking them out of their current jobs. But that raises the question: what type of field project does it make sense for them to do? A lot of programs assign a paper or research. Well, that’s not only tough for a working teacher to accommodate, it doesn’t make sense. Teachers who are going to be principals need experi¬ence managing other faculty.” 

From TC and SPA, Solomon also learned that the training of school leaders could be “less theoretical and more practical.” “For Craig Richards, who was my dissertation adviser, and other faculty members like Ellie Drago-Severson and Terry Maltbia, there were no sacred cows. They were all about opening up people to incorporate new ideas.”

That’s precisely the role that Solomon, who served on TC’s President’s Advisory Council, hopes to play on the Board. He’s particularly interested in the College’s preservice teaching programs, where he sees opportu¬nities to align efforts with how principals are prepared. Having lived and studied in Japan, he’s also eyeing TC’s global partnerships. But it may be his entrepre¬neurial skills that ultimately prove most valuable. In leading BOSS, Solomon has secured funding from the Gates and Ford Foundations and partnered with Morgan Stanley to create a mentoring program for the school’s students.

“We try to give our students a personal network of people from the wider New York business community,” he says, “because ultimately it’s not just about what you know, but also who you know.”

Published Monday, Feb. 9, 2015


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