Last January, when Allison Fansler announced that she was stepping down as president of KIPP DC PCS I was shocked. After observing her in action with KIPP DC CEO Susan Schaeffler I thought that this was a perfectly matched professional team that would work together in perfect synchronization until they both transitioned to retirement. Ms. Fansler has spent 16 years at KIPP and in her disclosure of her pending departure stated that she made the decision to leave her position in 2019. The KIPP president said at the time that she joined the charter school network when it had two middle schools in 2007. KIPP DC now teaches over 7,000 students in 20 schools on 8 campuses.
KIPP performed a nationwide search for a replacement to Ms. Fansler but it turned out in the end to be an unnecessary exercise. The individual selected to be the next president is none other than Shannon Hodge, the current founding executive director of the DC Charter School Alliance. This is an outstanding selection.
Actually, I do not think being the head of the Alliance was the perfect role for Ms. Hodge. Although I applauded the choice, mentioning in 2020 that I consistently appreciated Ms. Hodge’s frequent testimony on front of the D.C. Council, I did not find her ubiquitous requests for additional funding to be her strong suit. I see Ms. Hodge more as a soldier fully enjoined in the battle to provide an exemplary education to those society has pushed away even from the margins. She is the paratrooper flying in to rescue Options PCS and then continuing her work with Kingsman Academy PCS. All with a smile on her face. I interviewed Ms. Hodge in 2017.
At a moment like this it is especially fitting to thank Josh Kern, the cofounder of Tensquare Consulting, who recognized the star potential in Ms. Hodge when he enlisted her help as the court-appointed receiver during the terribly tough days of the Options charter school debacle.
Yesterday’s broadcast of Ms. Hodge’s job change was carefully coordinated between the Alliance and KIPP DC, with both organizations sending out social media messages of the change within minutes of each other. However, the orchestration was not perfect as the news from the Alliance states that Ms. Hodge will be with them through October, while the KIPP release says that she is joining them in mid-August. The message from the Alliance reveals that Ariel Johnson, the group’s prior chief of staff, will become the interim successor to Ms. Hodge.