July 22, 2012 Schools.



Honorable Duval County School Board Members, It is with great enthusiasm that I submit this application for superintendent of Duval County Public

Over the last several years, my demonstrated skill set and track record of improving student achievement in challenging environments have afforded me the opportunity to contemplate several superintendent and CEO-level positions throughout the country. I humbly declined those opportunities because of the exciting work that is taking place in Miami-Dade County. With that said, I believe that this opportunity is unique in that the Duval County School Board and its stakeholders are genuinely searching for a change agent. Together, I am confident that we will enhance the district's good work and propel it to the next level as a national leader in public education. I have been fortunate to serve on the cabinet of two National Urban Superintendents of the Year while playing a role in Miami-Dade County being named a Broad Finalist for Excellence in Urban Education multiple times. Most recently, alongside one of the nation's strongest urban superintendents, I have assisted in unifying the school board and stakeholders, strategically leveraging limited funding to sustain and accelerate student achievement, and lobbying state and local representatives to strengthen public education. In addition to leading school turnaround in the fourth largest district in the country, as a cabinet member I have assisted in balancing the district budget, negotiated several collective bargaining agreements, led community outreach efforts, and served as the media representative for school turnaround and accountability topics. During this time, I completed my doctorate at The Harvard Graduate School of Education, in the Urban Superintendents Program, where I was the recipient of the Presidential Fellowship, which is awarded to the top doctoral candidate. Over the years, The Urban Superintendents Program has been a leader in developing many successful urban superintendents throughout the county. Prior to returning to Miami-Dade County, I served as the Deputy Chancellor for School Improvement and Student Achievement at the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) where I directly supervised and reorganized the Bureaus of School Improvement, Title I, Federal Programs, Office of Equal Opportunity, Guidance Counseling, Just Read, Florida!, Early Learning, and Community and Parent Outreach. In this capacity, I also supervised the five school improvement regions that guided and supported the work of superintendents, districts, and schools throughout the state. I also spearheaded Florida's Race to the Top and School Improvement Grant applications for struggling schools, while presenting on these and other issues nationally and throughout the state.

My professional life has been dedicated to providing all students with high-level instruction and viable opportunities after graduation. I have a clear track record of raising student achievement at nearly every

level of the educational process as a teacher, principal, and state and district administrator. This work has been done in some of the nation's largest districts and organizations as well as smaller, rural districts. As the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, School Improvement and Accountability, Education Transformation and Performance, I currently have the honor of directly leading the Education Transformation Office (ETO) and the 26 schools that were previously labeled "persistently lowestachieving" by the USOOE/FLOOE. Of the 19 schools I originally led, 7 schools were "Cs", 10 were

"Os", and 2 were "Fs". Now, 5 are projected to be "As", 2 "Bs"," 8 "Cs," 3 "Os", and 1 "F". Of the 26 schools served, reading proficiency has increased by 7 percentage points; math proficiency by 32 percentage points; Algebra proficiency by 10 percentage points; science proficiency by 25 percentage points; reading learning gains by 19 percentage points; and reading learning gains for the lowest 25% by 37 percentage points. Each of the 10 high schools improved their graduation rate by an average of 12 percentage points, to an overall average of78%. College reading readiness improved by 36 percentage points and math readiness improved by 16 percentage points. Accelerated Participation (dual enrollment, industry certification, and Advanced Placement) improved by 49 percentage points and performance improved by 32 percentage points. Each of the five previously identified Intervene schools exited the category. This success has been accomplished with a student-centric and strategic approach that focuses on 1) improving teacher quality 2) developing instructional leaders 3) engaging parents and the community, and 4) expanding wraparound services for students. The process of transformation has been supported by local and state board members, teachers, administrators, alumni, universities, community members, businesses, local and state elected officials, non-profit organizations, parents, and students. The ETO has been highlighted as a model by the USOOE and FLOOE for school improvement, which included a visit by President Barack Obama in 20 II. After observing two ETO schools, analyzing data, and interviewing administrators, teachers, students, community members, and parents, Broad Foundation representatives named ETO "world class" and identified our way of work as one that needs to be replicated across the nation. My leadership style has been characterized as visionary, passionate, transparent, accountable, unifying, focused, inclusive, relentless, bold, honest, thoughtful, strategic, data-driven, and transformational. I am a problem-solver who believes that an instructional leader, especially the superintendent, must be in schools and classrooms to make a difference for students and communities.

If given the opportunity to be the next superintendent of Duval County Public Schools, I would bring a national and state-wide reputation for school reform with the ability to recruit a team of diverse, proven instructional leaders within and outside the county. I am confident that through collaborative efforts, with all stakeholders, Duval County will become a national model for student achievement. I believe that my intricate knowledge of Florida's accountability system in a time of heightened reform and perpetual change, coupled with my professional experience and commitment for excellence, make me the ideal candidate to lead Duval County Public Schools. Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to discussing this opportunity with you. Sincerely,

Nikolai P. Vitti, Ed.D.

Duval County Public Schools Application Information Form
Title: Name: X Dr.

Jacksonville, Florida
Position: Superintendent



o Mrs.

o (other-please
Telephone Cell: E-mail:



Nikolai P. Vitti

Office: (305) 995-7524 (786) 334-7923 npc.vitti@gmail.com

Record of Professional Education (in reverse chronology) Institution
Harvard Graduate School of Education

Graduation Date
March 2012

Education Administration, Planning. and Social Policy; Urban Superintendents Program Education Administration. Planning, and Social Policy Secondary Social Studies History

Doctorate of Education

Harvard Graduate School of Education

June 2006

Master of Education

Wake ForestUniversity

December 2001

Master of Education

Wake Forest University

May 2000

Bachelor of Arts

Record of Professional Experience (in reverse chronology) Title
Chief Academic Officer Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, School improvementand Accountability, Education Transfonnation and Performance Deputy Chancellor; School Improvement and Student Achievement Bureau Chief School ImprovemeriVRe9ionai Executive DirectorlLead Executive Director for Differentiated Accountability

to Present

Miami-Dade County






Miami-Dade County






Florida Department of Education






Florida Department of Education



Duval County PubUc Schools, Jacksonville,


Closing date July


The School Board has identified the following qualities for the superintendent

of schools.

Please respond to each of the qualities stressing your experience, strengths, and abilities in each area, limiting your responses to between 200 and 300 words for each item. 1. A leader who solicits, respects and values the input of stakeholders at all levels of the organization and who has demonstrated leadership in utilizing that input to create and sustain a culture of shared decision-making. As an instructional leader, I have actively created and sustained an authentic process of engaging all stakeholders including school and state board members, community members, the business community, universities, non-profit organizations, faith-based leaders, the teachers' union, teachers, instructional coaches, school based administrators, parents, and students to create a synergy of ideas, strategies, and resources that center on improving the lives and educational outcomes of students. It is without question that students cannot receive a deserved high quality education in isolation; a superintendent must solicit, respect, and value the input of all stakeholders. The problem solving process that I apply focuses on engaging stakeholders on four important questions: "What is working, what is not working and why, and, what can we do together to solve the problem?" Collective and shared ownership of the problem solving process empowers stakeholders to heighten their responsibility in working collaboratively to improve student outcomes and to renew their faith in urban education. Even in the most difficult situations, I have never ignored or dismissed the concerns of stakeholders. Instead, I have built a reputation as a bi-partisan leader who continually seeks to hear and understand the concerns and issues that exist as barriers to ultimately better serve schools and students. These sometimes passionate conversations lead to a more sophisticated understanding of the strategies and conditions that must be improved or communicated more effectively. This process is not about idle talk or empty promises but action that develops trust among stakeholders to delve deeper into the reform process. To ensure this, 1 am constantly out of my office and visiting schools and local community groups. To rally many of the stakeholders committed to improving lower-performing schools, I developed an Education Transformation Office (ETO) Task Force 10 review student achievement data, openly discuss concerns in schools and at the district level, review' educational policy, and propose and solicit feedback on reform ideas. To spread an understanding of our work, I facilitate town hall meetings, visit churches, attend PTSA meetings, and alumni association meetings. During these meetings. participating members have a voice to address concerns, maintain open lines of communication, and proceed with solutions.

2. A leader who supports and empowers principals, teachers and staff to improve organizational and student performance outcomes. As a former teacher and principal, T will always believe thai my position of influence should be used to protect the work of principals and teachers to enable them 10 focus primarily on improving student achievement, with no bureaucratic restraints, while providing them with the tools to succeed and holding all staff accountable. Proven principals and teachers earn autonomy
Duval County Public SChoOlS, JaCKsonvi!le, fL
Closing date July 23,2012

when they consistently guidance and support.

perform at high levels, while those who struggle are provided


In addition to streamlining personnel and operational issues in my most recent position, I have supported and empowered principals by recruiting, retaining, and developing more effective teachers, instructional coaches, and assistant principals. I also created a support team through the

Education Transformation Office (ETG) of highly effective and proven educators who assist in
the development of principals' skills as instructional leaders. ETO's way of work focuses on support and collective problem solving, not compliance. Together, we have created a system that empowers principals to be creative and confident in knowing that they are fully supported. Supporting principals means standing by their side when difficult personnel, budget, and organizational decisions need to be made in the name of children. Lastly, Ihave expanded and aligned state, federal, and grant funding to assist principals in providing our students with the wraparound services they need to limit the obstacles that prevent students from having the best possible learning environment.

I have supported and empowered teachers throughout my career by speaking truth to the challenges in the classroom and recognizing that "quick fixes" and "silver bullets" do not exist when attempting to sustain increases in student achievement. I have always directed additional and strategic resources to the classroom in the form of technology, supplies, materials, and hourly interventionists to assist teachers in providing smaller group instruction to move students to grade level proficiency. Additionally, I have transformed the infrastructure of our schools to allow for more teacher collaboration, problem solving, cross school and classroom visits, and active coaching.
ensured that those who support teachers, specifically school based coaches, and district-level support staff are well trained, monitored, and respect and understand the challenges of raising student achievement. These individuals are mutually accountable, owning teacher and student success or failure. Lastly, I have aggressively

administrators, instructional

3. A proactive visionary, able to consider, plan and implement systemic change that increase the district's ability to recognize and respond to current and future challenges as they arise. Despite constant changes, reduced funding, and the unpredictable nature of Florida's accountability system, Ihave been able to develop and implement innovative systems of support to sustain and accelerate student achievement in some of the most challenging schools in our country. As a former tumaround principal, Deputy Chancellor of School Improvement and Student Achievement at the FLDOE, and now Assistant Superintendent in the largest district in the state, I have a keen understanding of the intricacies of Florida's accountability system. This knowledge and experience has enabled me to avoid focusing on compliance issues and instead transform or adjust systems and processes to support district administrators, principals, and teachers in improving outcomes for students.

My background currently allows me to strategically advise the superintendent, school board, FLDOE, state board, and the community on how to best adjust and succeed with raising
Duval County Public Schools, Jacksonvilfe, FL Closing date July 23, 2012

standards and increased accountability. This is done in an intelligent and transparent way. As a leader then, the conversation with stakeholders is not one characterized by fear, inertia, or powerlessness but of focus, strategy, and purpose. 4. Someone with strong organizational and leadership skills, able to collaborative!y align and focus internal and external stakeholders' efforts to accelerate progress on achieving the district's goals for student and organizational performance. My ability to raise student achievement in challenging settings rests on the strategic planning process that galvanizes and keeps internal and external stakeholders focused on the goal of improving the lives and academic outcomes despite outside threats and competing interests among stakeholders. In the context of The Education Transformation Office (ETO), the strategic plan focuses on 1) improving teacher quality 2) developing instructional leaders 3) engaging parents and community stakeholders, and 4) expanding wraparound services for students to raise student achievement. The first two pillars engage internal stakeholders in the process of reform, whereas the other two focus on external stakeholders. Funding, including general revenue, school based Title I,district Title I, School Improvement Grants, Title II, and outside grants drive the implementation of these four pillars. To reach the goal of tight alignment and focus, it was important to eliminate duplicative initiatives. Initiatives and strategies associated with these four pillars are constantly evaluated and adjusted to incorporate the feedback of stakeholders and improve implementation and outcomes. This process, strategy, and its implementation have been identified as a model by the US DOE, FLDOE, and the Broad Foundation. Perhaps the best example of bringing together multiple stakeholders to drive school reform was obtaining a million dollar grant from the J.P. Morgan-Chase Foundation for Northwestern Senior High School that expanded dual enrollment opportunities and implemented an aquaphonics program focusing on STEM and entrepreneurship. This process rallied businesses, non-profits, and Florida International University.

5. A person of integrity who is trustworthy and whose retationshipe,

with the board and

across the district, are predicated on honest and open communications.
I believe that my reputation as a child-centric, transparent, straightforward, open, and honest

leader has been established over the years within settings that have been extraordinarily large, complex, political, and difficult from New York City to the Florida Department of Education to Miami-Dude County. Over the past decade, my record is clean of scandals, cover-ups, or lies. A leader is the image of the organization. In the context of this work, a superintendent represents the school board, communities, and most importantly, children. Once a leader's trustworthiness is lost, reform is as well. I am proud of the fact that all of my former supervisors would recognize that I have always communicated openly with them regarding issues that would threaten their leadership, reform, or the organization. This has included school board members and the community. I have modeled and demanded proactive and open communication among my teams and those they support.
Duval County Public Schools, Jacksonville, FL Closing date July 23,2012

Do you have a Superintendent Endorsement for the state represented by the position listed on this Application Information Form?
(If you have questions regarding the requirements to be a superintendent in the State of Florida, contact the Florida Department of Education)




I certify that the information provided herein is true and complete

to the best of my knowledge.


I am aware that the Florida Sunshine Act will require that all applicant information is public and can be released to the media upon request.

Applicant hereby waives his/her right to confidentiality with regard to his/her work record or criminal record and consents to and authorizes the release of information from current or former employers and/or law enforcement personnel upon inquiry under this application.

Signature of Applicant: Printed name of Applicant: __

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This application must be COMPLETED and RETURNED by:

MONDAY, JULY 23,2012

Duval County Public Schools McPherson & Jacobson, LLC. Executive Recruitment and Development 7905 L St., Suite 310 Omaha, Nebraska 68127 Phone: (402) 991-7031/(888) 375-4814
Fax: (402) 991~7168

AAlEEO Employer

Duval County Public Schools, Jacksonville,


Closing date July 23, 2012