Mayor Vincent Gray has selected a former Teach for America executive as his deputy mayor for education. Abigail Smith, who also has experience as an administrator in both public and charter schools, replaces De'Shawn Wright, who left last year to become deputy secretary for education in New York state.
In addition, Smith has worked under schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson and her predecessor, Michelle Rhee.
"Abigail has devoted her entire career to working with families, teachers and schools to deliver on the promise of a great public education for all children, and she has extensive experience working in education reform nationally and in the District," Mayor Gray said. "She's extremely well qualified to steer my administration's efforts to ensure that every child in the District has access to a top-quality education."
The deputy mayor oversees the mayor's education initiatives, and Smith will be asked to develop a plan for the coexistence of public and charter schools.
Smith said she's been in the local education arena long enough to have seen the best of the District's public education in both sectors.
"There's an urgent need to do more as quickly as we can," saidSmith, who lives in Ward 1. "I look forward to working with Mayor Gray, the council and the city's other education leaders – and, most importantly, families and students – to give every public-school student in the District the chance they deserve to reach their potential."
Henderson said she was excited to work with Smith as her administration continues to improve the quality of education for District public schools students.
Said Henderson, "Abby's deep knowledge and experience in both traditional DCPS schools and in DC Charter schools makes her especially qualified to help us improve collaboration and coordination to ensure that we really are one city where every student can succeed and achieve at the highest levels."
Prior to beginning her new job, Smith will have to be confirmed by the D.C. Council.