Kelly Kovacic has spent her career working to understand how best to support teachers and school systems so they can guide their students to reach ambitious goals. A southern California native, Kelly first became fascinated by this question as a founding teacher at The Preuss School UCSD, a public 6-12 charter school serving low-income students who will be the first college graduates in their families. As Social Studies Department chair, and later a member of the Administrative team, Kelly worked closely with teachers and school leaders to design and implement cutting edge professional learning opportunities for students and adults, leading Preuss to be recognized nationally by the Department of Education for its dramatic student outcomes and named the #1 most transformative school in the nation by Newsweek magazine.
In 2010, Kelly was named the California Teacher of the Year and recognized by President Obama and Secretary Duncan as one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year.
Kelly is committed to creating equitable learning environments on the cutting edge of achieving educational excellence. She has served on numerous state and national advisory boards, committees, and panels. She was appointed to the Advisory Commission on Charter Schools, the statewide commission that oversees charter school authorization, serves on the board for the National Network of State Teachers of the Year, and was appointed by the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction to serve as a leading member on the Educator Excellence Task Force, designing and writing California’s current blueprint and policy framework for supporting leadership and career pathways in the teaching profession.
Most recently, Kelly consulted and led strategic planning processes supporting a number of school districts, state education agencies and non-profits, including Tennessee’s Achievement School District, Baltimore City Schools and the Children’s Defense Fund, to drive changes that will improve student outcomes.
Drawing from her passion to expand opportunities for young people, Kelly has focused her career on systemic education reform. She is currently finishing her final year as a doctoral candidate in the Education Leadership Program (Ed.L.D.) at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. By empowering students, parents, teachers and other stakeholders, Kelly hopes to move away from “silver bullet” solutions and towards the reimagining of complex systems.