Eileen Santiago

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The Suburban Promise of Brown

Eileen Santiago

Dr santiagoDr. Eileen Santiago’s 34 years in public education, as both a teacher and school administrator, have given her first hand-experience and knowledge in meeting the many challenges confronting educators.   She demonstrated success in meeting the needs of a diverse student population, most of whom were attending the school in which she served as principal growing up in poverty.  Dr. Santiago gained recognition as a principal for her steadfast support of Whole Child Education and for creating one of the country’s most successful full-service community schools. 

Under Dr. Santiago’s visionary leadership from 1996 to 2011, the Thomas Edison School in Port Chester, New York focused its efforts to ensure student success by intentionally creating a school organization and culture that would support students in each the developmental domains critical to their growth and learning (physical, social, emotional, intellectual, ethical and civic). 

Dr. Santiago has received recognition for her “trailblazing efforts in education” and for her support of children and families from the Hispanic Women Leaders of Westchester, from SER of Westchester Inc., from the Board of Education of the Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District, and from the Westchester Children’s Association.  In addition to her earned doctorate from Teachers College, Dr. Santiago was awarded an honorary doctorate from Manhattanville College in 2010 for her work in developing the college’s first Professional Development School, an initiative which would later draw six districts from across Westchester County to form similar partnerships with the college in their quest to better prepare teachers for the challenges of diversity. 

During her tenure as principal, the Thomas Edison School would host visitors from across the country and from as far away as the Netherlands, all of whom would come to learn about educating the whole child and forming thriving partnerships with families and community-based organizations.  The school would also become a recipient of the following awards and recognition:

  • STAIR Dissemination Award for Inclusive School Practices from the U.S. Department of Education, 2009
  • N.Y.S. High Achieving/Gap Closing School, Certificate of Recognition from the N.Y.S. Education Dept., 2006
  • Knowledge Works Foundation “Schools as Centers of Community Honor Society” 2005
  • The Business Council of N.Y.S. Honor Roll Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Educational Improvement, 2004
  • National School of Character, awarded by the Character Education Partnership, Washington D.C., 2003
  • Finalist “School Change Award” Fordham University , 2002
  • Sharing Success School Model validated by the N.Y.S. Education Dept., 2002

Dr. Santiago currently serves on the Board of Directors of CEP (Character Education Partnership), the One World Youth Club Organization, and as an Advisory Council member to the Westchester Children’s Association.  She is also President of “Strategies for Whole Child Education and Community School Partners” and has provided professional development to a vast audience of school leaders on Whole Child Education and full-service community schools locally, nationally, and internationally.  In addition, to writing numerous articles, she recently completed her first book, written in collaboration with two of her colleagues, titled, “Whole Child, Whole School:  From Theory to Practice in a Community School”. 

Speaker Abstract

Strategies for Support Economically Disadvantaged, Minority Students in Our Changing Suburbs  
Over the past several decades, Westchester County, New York has witnessed dramatic shifts in the demographics of its population and nowhere has that shift become more evident than among its children and youth, the schools they attend, and the communities in which they live. Recent data compiled by Westchester Children’s Association in their publication, Westchester by the Numbers, presents one of the most comprehensive and compelling profiles of young people under 18 years of age and their families within the county. This publication identifies the growing disparities in maintaining adequate levels of access to health, mental health, childcare and social services based on race and ethnicity, where poverty is most likely to reside. For this reason, esteemed sociologist and educational researcher, Dr. Pedro Noguera (2003) has most fittingly expanded his use of the term “urban” to include many schools across the country with poor, non-white populations similar to those of larger cities, regardless of their geographic locations.  

With focus on “systems thinking” and meeting the needs of the “whole child”, this presentation provides strategies for supporting minority students growing up in poverty within the changing landscape of suburban communities. It offers a synthesis of my own perspectives, first from having been both a student and teacher in the New York City Public Schools, from having served as a principal of an elementary school in Westchester County where exceedingly high levels of poverty were matched by exceptionally high levels of cultural and linguistic diversity, and from my current involvement with districts and county leaders attempting to address similar challenges. The presentation will articulate and advocate for a more comprehensive and integrated approach to school reform, to educating children and to supporting their families and community based upon strong theory frameworks that have been buttressed by current research and best practices across various fields of knowledge. Beyond school-wide and classroom practices, this presentation will conclude with recommendations for developing school leaders and informing policy.