Beth Milne is a past member of the 50CAN team. 

I have exciting news about our shared mission to ensure that every Maryland child has access to a great school. Beginning this summer, a fantastic new leader will head MarylandCAN: Jason Botel.

Jason and I have been colleagues in this work for over a decade. I remember Jason serving as a school director at the 2000 Teacher For America Summer Institute, when I was just starting out as a corps member.  Jason had a very impressive reputation from his teaching at Booker T. Washington Middle School in Baltimore, and it was clear from his work at the Institute that he was on his way to being a great leader.

When Jason founded the first KIPP Baltimore public charter school, he went door to door to recruit families to his school. He made a promise to each student that if they lived up to their commitments he would make sure that they achieved excellence. Jason is exactly the right person to lead MarylandCAN because he truly understands what it takes to create a school that will change students’ lives. Last year, KIPP Baltimore had the highest eighth-grade reading and math proficiency rates in Baltimore.

For the past seven years Jason has led a school that has improved the life trajectory of hundreds of children—and he has also fought hard to allow it to continue to change lives.

Throughout his tenure he has rallied hundreds of parents to advocate for adequate funding for schools and school facilities. Just last year, he secured the approval from the Baltimore City School Board of a 30-year lease for KIPP schools. Jason understands how to bring people together to figure out the best strategy for our children.

Maryland often ranks number one in the country for our public schools. But the truth is that even here, a child’s zip code still determines the quality of their education. Under Jason’s leadership, MarylandCAN will ensure that families have access to great public school options.

The MarylandCAN board would like to thank Curtis Valentine, who has served as founding executive director of MarylandCAN since September 2011, for his hard work advocating for children in our state. In the past year-and-a-half, Curtis led MarylandCAN’s efforts to reform our public schools, including rallying 300 people to come to Annapolis just last month for charter school reform, publishing school report cards and policy reports and building a strong network of advocates like you.

Jason will take on the role of executive director full time this summer. Please join me in welcoming the new leader of our great schools movement. Because great schools change everything.

Omari Todd
Senior Vice President, Regional Operations, Teach For America
MarylandCAN board member


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