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Terry Dade to be Rochester School District superintendent

May 14, 2019

Terry Dade has been selected to serve as superintendent for the Rochester City School District. He currently is an assistant superintendent for the 180,000-student Fairfax County Public Schools in Falls Church, Virginia.
Credit Provided photo

Rochester City School District officials have confirmed that the Board of Education has selected Terry Dade as the district's permanent superintendent.

According to the district, he will sign his contract at an upcoming board meeting and start July 1.

“I am humbled and honored to join the Rochester City School District family, as we work together to provide all students with the high-quality education they deserve," Dade said in a statement. "Together we can accomplish tremendous gains in student achievement and success, and I look forward to partnering with all stakeholders to make this a reality for our students, families, staff, and community.” 

Since 2015, Dade has been an assistant superintendent for the Fairfax County Public Schools in Falls Church, Virginia, a district with 180,000 students.

In that position, he is responsible for coaching and evaluating principals and implementing school improvement plans in a part of the district that serves 37,000 students, according to information provided by the Rochester district.

Dade has spent much of his career working in the Washington, D.C., area. He was a principal in the District of Columbia school system, where he served under then-Chancellor Michelle Rhee, the controversial education reform advocate.

Thirty-one people applied for the Rochester position. The school board chose Dade over three other finalists:

  • Devon Horton, chief of schools, Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Kentucky (101,000 students).
  • Sito Narcisse, chief of schools for Metro Nashville Public Schools (86,000 students).
  • George Eric Thomas, chief turnaround officer for the Georgia State Board of Education.

All four candidates appeared at a public forum that the school board held earlier this month.

At the forum, Dade said he was particularly impressed by Rochester’s excellent prekindergarten program, but he said he also was struck by the low reading proficiency levels of Rochester's second-graders. Addressing that problem would be a priority, he said.

“Culture,” he said, trumps “strategy.” Plans are important, he said, but the culture of a school has to be positive and inspiring. Leaders need to model what they hope to see in teachers, parents, and students, he said.

He said he would insist on a common and consistently implemented districtwide curriculum because Rochester students change schools often, which puts them at risk of falling behind.

He said the experience with Rhee had been important to him, and he appreciated some of her positions on education. She didn’t accept complacency, he said.

Dade has two master’s degrees, one from Trinity University in school administration and another from the University of Virginia in elementary education. He said he will receive his doctorate in education policy from Virginia Tech this month.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren spoke about the selection Tuesday.

“We have switched leaders before, and I’m not confident that by switching leaders we will change the outcomes for our children,” Warren said. “The bottom line is we have a system that is in crisis and the system needs to change.”

She also talked about the differences between the districts, noting that the Fairfax area is more affluent and doesn’t face the same challenges as Rochester.

Macaluso is a staff writer with CITY Newspaper.

Includes reporting from WXXI News reporter James Brown.