Leadership Update

It is hard to believe that another academic year has come to a close. On August 26th we will welcome new families and grow to 470 students. For those of us who walked though the doors of 55 Willoughby in August 2015, this is truly a "pinch me, I'm dreaming" moment.

Those of you on Instagram have seen our progress in adding six classrooms to the 4th floor at 9 Hanover place. (The sheet rock is going up this week, another record early date for ICS).  These rooms will help bridge us for 5th and 6th grade as we plan for the move to 30 Clinton Ave in August 2021.  We expect to break ground on our new building in September, shortly after you return from summer break.

Ellen and I recognize the challenge in maintaining same standards of excellence we had for 17 teachers as we now approach 65 teachers and staff. To strengthen our team we have been interviewing additional senior leaders for some time.

We are pleased to announce two new, experienced elementary leaders who will join the team.


Emily Carroll-Chocolaad is a Chicago native and graduate of the Lab School. She began teaching in the South Bronx at PS 18 over a decade ago. She rose to ever more senior roles in the KIPP network, serving as the founding principal of a KIPP elementary school in Brooklyn. Since 2016 she has led the instructional support team at New Classrooms, a personalized learning company focused on middle school math, Emily, her husband, and their son live in Clinton Hill. She will be based at 55 Willoughby, oversee Kindergarten and First Grade, and take in 2nd to 4th grade as ICS expands in the years to come. She will also oversee the strengthening of our school culture across both buildings.



Kate Carroll-Outten, originally from Freeport, Bahamas, joins us from Richmond, Virginia where she was principal at an elementary school undergoing a turnaround. She took this role after working as a teacher, coach, and administrator in the DC public schools.  She also taught in Prince William County (VA) and in the Bahamas. Her daughter, a doctor at Brooklyn Hospital, lives in Kensington, and her son will attend Pace University. Kate looks forward to being closer to her family. She will be based at 9 Hanover and will oversee 2nd to 5th grades. As we continue to grow into a middle school, Emily will take the lower grades over from Kate. She will be based at 9 Hanover and oversee 2nd to 5th grade.


It goes without saying that Ellen's unstinting work, much of it behind the scenes, is what has enabled us to reach this moment. For the last for years, 185 days a year, in sun, rain or snow, Ellen has been out front at 7:30, welcoming your children and our staff. She is forever meeting with families and staff, observing and coaching, writing weekly updates to you, and thinking about the big picture. I articulated a vision, but Ellen made it all happen. Now she can take a well-deserved break.

We will transition the day-to-day responsibilities to Kate and Emily over the summer. While Ellen will not make day-to-day decisions, she has built a strong team that will provide continuity and support Kate and Emily. I look forward to continuing to work with Ellen in her advisory capacity.

Let me remind you of several key leaders who have developed with Ellen’s guidance and continue to do excellent work every day. I also want to tell you about a current teacher who is being promoted.

Lizzie Shander was a founding 1st grade Special Education teacher in the 1st grade ICT classroom. She quickly made the leap to lead our learning supports program. She oversees the work of our SETTS teachers, therapists, and ELL teacher. She coaches and evaluates our special education teachers, and is our lead contact with the Committee on Special Education. Somewhere in the middle of all that she also found time to become a mom, and recently returned to ICS from maternity leave. She will continue in this role in August.

Joey Valdes was Lizzie's co-teacher in 1st grade. When we moved to 38 Hanover to fit 2nd grade Joey stepped into a kind of jack-of-all-trades role as Director of Culture. He helped us through a challenging year. Building on this work, Joey became our Director of Data and Accountability, leading not only our compliance and reporting efforts but also helping teachers to improve the ways they use their classroom data to improve instruction. He will continue in this role in August.

Annie Harris-Kornblith was our founding Social Worker and has been a key contributor to our efforts to build positive culture and supports for all our children. She recently gained the LCSW designation which means, among other qualifications that she has completed three years of supervised experience in diagnosis, psychotherapy and assessment-based treatment planning since earning her Master's degree. Well-established programs like Banana Splits and Lunch Bunch are how many families know Annie. But he also brought on MaryAnn Louis last year, to expand our capacity, and she continues to deliver mandated counseling students. She (and MaryAnn) will continue in their roles in August.

Elizabeth Mikolajczyk (Me-co-why-chick) will leave her 3rd grade ICT class to start a formal mentorship program for our Teaching Assistants. (You may remember her as Elizabeth Lipman. She got married last November). Our hard working TAs -- many pursuing grad school at night and on weekends - have proven to be a wonderful source of talented, diverse, teachers since 2015. Norida Colon, Sara Tasini and Mace Braxton are just three examples. With Elizabeth's experience guiding them formally and coaching the lead teachers on best practices we expect many more TAs will successfully make the leap to lead teachers in the years ahead.

Please join me in welcoming Kate and Emily, congratulating Ellen on a job well done, and celebrating our other experienced and emerging leaders.

Michael Hernandez