Principal Ambassador Fellowship Program
Campus Principal Ambassador Fellow
New York, NY
Bio/Overview: Jessica Nauiokas is currently serving in her eighth year as Principal of Mott Haven Academy Charter School, which she founded in 2007. The Academy is the country’s first public school dedicated to serving children in the child welfare system. In 2013, Nauiokas led testing grades to achieve scores on NYS assessments that surpass district comparisons and compete with New York City, State, and Charter schools' achievement rates. Additionally, three years in a row, 100% of 4th Graders performed proficient on the 4th grade NYS science assessment, and in 2013 Haven Academy received a grade of “A” from the New York City Department of Education progress report. Prior to her appointment to Principal, she was the Director of School Development at the NYC Center for Charter School Excellence. Before serving as the Director of School Development, Nauiokas completed the New Leaders for New Schools fellowship where she was a member of the leadership team at a small school in Harlem. Nauiokas was also an Adjunct Professor of Education at Mercy College, where she taught graduate level courses preparing new teachers for entry into the classroom. She began her career in education as a Teach for America corps member in Washington DC where she was a first grade teacher at Malcolm X Elementary School and then a Reading Specialist.
Educational Values/Philosophy: Nauiokas has nearly two decades of urban teaching and leadership experience and a strong background in literacy and cognitive development. She has dedicated her career to closing the achievement gap for our nation’s most vulnerable children. Nauiokas believes that all children can thrive academically and deserve a high quality educational experience. She also believes it’s our obligation, as educators, to improve school experiences for the child welfare community in NYC of over 15,000 foster children and 15,000 prevention children. As child welfare and educational professionals often speak of greater integration between the systems as being essential to addressing the needs of this special population, Nauiokas’s school, Haven Academy, seeks to be a model for schools across the country, and demonstrate that schools need to understand the effects of trauma on learning processes.
All students, regardless of economic status or family structure, are entitled to learn in a system that gives them the best chance for success. Nauiokas and Haven’s vision is to remove the barriers children in the child welfare system face through provision of comprehensive support services. By co-locating the school with The New York Founding’s Bronx Community Services, there unique model blends a rigorous academic program with an extensive series of social support services to meet the needs of the community.
Haven Academy has worked tirelessly since its inception to develop and cultivate a strong school culture. Nauiokas believes that children with healthy and positive social and emotional experiences are at a greater advantage for academic success. Her students are provided a safe, supportive and consistent learning environment to learn and practice social and emotional skills. The school’s vision is communicated to scholars through a purposeful blend of rituals, traditions, common language, systems of logical consequences, positive behavior supports, and social emotional curricula, staff, students, families, and visitors quickly gain a sense of what it means to be part of the Haven Community.
Achievements: In 2014, Nauiokas was selected as a Robert’s Award winner for school innovation. She was selected for her innovative work on child welfare education reform. In June 2013, Ms. Nauiokas was honored as NY1’s, New Yorker of the Week. She was the feature of a news story that aired throughout the week. New York Family Magazine selected Nauiokas Nauiokas as one of its “Heroes” in its November 2011 issue and described Nauiokas as “A Principal for the Neediest”.
Prior to her work founding Haven Academy, Nauiokas was also selected to attend the KIPP Leadership Pathways Program at Stanford University in 2007 where she joined charter school founders from across the country. Her school leadership work began in 2003, when Nauiokas was a New Leaders for New Schools Fellowship Recipient and a presenter for the AERA National Conference in Chicago and the NYCSA State Conference in New York.
As a teacher, Nauiokas was a Kennedy Center Grant Recipient in 1998 and 1999. In 1998, she received the Most Dedicated Teacher Award at Malcolm X Elementary.
Education: Nauiokas has a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Human Development and Psychology in addition to a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of New Hampshire. Additionally, she completed a master’s in School Administration and holds a School District Administrator’s license in New York.
Areas of Interest/Expertise:
- Urban School Leadership
- Child Welfare
- Special Education
- Teacher Preparation and Supervision
- School Culture