One of the most famous faces of urban education will soon be replaced. Geoffrey Canada, chief executive of the renowned Harlem Children’s Zone, recently announced that he would be stepping down from the position in June.
Having joined the Harlem charter school network and non-profit in 1990, the 62 year-old educational reformer catapulted to prominence after appearing in the highly acclaimed, yet divisive documentary Waiting for Superman and inspiring the film’s title.
“One of the saddest days of my life was when my mother told me Superman did not exist,” he recalled in the 2010 documentary. “She thought I was crying because it’s like Santa Claus is not real. I was crying because no one was coming with enough power to save us.”
Many supporters would likely argue that the South Bronx native employed himself with the superhuman role throughout the past two decades that he has run the program. In a community once synonymous for crack cocaine and the decline of Black American, HCZ has steadily risen to defy the educational odds that most institutions based in lower-income neighborhoods face.
The privately funded program is now backed by roughly $200 million in grants and contributions—thanks in large part to a fundraising campaign spearheaded by Canada—and supported by a 95 percent college acceptance rate, as well as celebrity figures like Oprah Winfrey. President Obama revealed in January that Canada’s hugely effective model for HCZ, which involves engaging with families before a child’s birth through college, also inspired the country’s first five Promise Zones, an ambitious national housing and urban development initiative.
So, when Canada told students, staff and community leaders on Monday that HCZ’s current chief operating officer Anne Williams-Isom, 49, would be taking the reigns on July 1, the announcement made for headline news.
“We’ve worked on this plan for over four years, and we feel like this is the right time at the Harlem Children’s Zone to bring in a really talented young leader, who I think—and people are going to think I’m kidding when I say this—I actually think she’s going to do a better job than I have done in taking this organization to the next level,” Canada told Bloomberg radio.
Queens native Williams-Isom, who Canada claims has been “running the show for more than a year now,” joined the Harlem program in 2009 after having worked for New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services. According to The New York Times, she pledged to “expand the use of data and to improve college graduation rates for students.”
“We’re going to get to the finish line, and we’re going to get there together,” she said on Monday.
The husband and grandfather of five revealed that he plans to spend time traveling with his family and doing “some things I’ve never been able to do.” While he plans to stay on as President of the Board at HCZ, Canada reportedly rejected any future plans to work for an administration or enter politics himself.
“There’s never a day I’ve not wanted to go to work. And so I can’t imagine I’ll be sitting home,” Canada told Bloomberg. “But I don’t have any immediate plans…I want a chance to really reflect on what we’ve done.”
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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