Hard Work + Passion = Success for Students, Says Leader Behind Academic Success at Top-Performing Charter School

Name: Katie Severn

Current role: Chief Academic Officer, DC Prep

Length in current role: 6 years

Previous roles in education or other sectors: Principal, Resident Principal, Assistant Principal, Special Education Coordinator, Special Education Teacher

Why I chose my career path: I was lucky enough to teach in Namibia and I fell in love with teaching there — spending time with students and learning from them showed me I wanted to make a career out of being with young people.

Favorite thing about what I get to do everyday: Working with teachers, leaders and families — brainstorming how we can better serve our students.

Person/Place/Thing That Best Exemplifies Me: Energizer Bunny . . .I just keep going and going and going even when most folks wish I would stop!

My Superpower: I don’t have one — I often say I am not more smart or skilled than anyone else, I just don’t ever give up.

Best lesson learned from a mentor or someone I admire: That we can learn from everyone and everything — even when the lesson is hard or the message is difficult to hear.

What I do to make lemonade out of lemons on my toughest days: Laugh with my kids, cook, EAT, do yoga

What education equity means to me: It means all kids in our country have access to high quality schools, teachers and leaders — legit high quality. Not high quality that is “good enough” for some students because it is better than what is currently available in certain neighborhoods. The bar is the bar is the bar for all kids.

My favorite thing to do to relax and rejuvenate: Sleep!

The practices/habits that help keep me grounded and maintain perspective when I’m feeling stressed, overworked, or unmotivated are: Laugh with my friends and family

Who I turn to for advice or guidance when I need career direction: My besties!

The advice I’d give to someone trying to find their career sweet spot: Jump in, get started and then evaluate and assess later. Work is called work for a reason — it is hard, it’s not vacation. Making an impact is hard and doing work that makes an impact comes with trade-offs so get your feet wet and navigate what you are willing to compromise on other fronts once you are in it.

Connect with Katie at ksevern@dcprep.org or learn more about her work at www.dcprep.org.