Here are the 9 names Mayor Parker is nominating to sit on Philadelphia’s school board

The nominees have various career backgrounds from legal to working for NASA. The nominations head to City Council for advice and consent.

Cherelle Parker entering City Council at City Hall

Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker enters Council Chambers to deliver her first budget address on March 14, 2024. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

This story originally appeared in the The Philadelphia Tribune.

Mayor Cherelle Parker announced her nine nominees to serve on the Philadelphia Board of Education. The group contains four current members of the board and five new names.

Parker is the second Philadelphia mayor after James Kenney with the authority to select board members after the state-run School Reform Commission, also known as the SRC, dissolved in 2017.

Reginald Streater, current school board president, is one of the four returning nominees, along with Sarah-Ashley Andrews, Chau Wing Lam, and Joyce Wilkerson, former board president. The new faces are Crystal Cubbage, Cheryl Harper, Whitney Jones, Wanda Novales, and Joan Stern. Mallory Fix-Lopez, the board’s current vice president, withdrew her name from consideration in March and will end her term on April 18.

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The Educational Nominating Panel, convened by Parker, went over 122 applicants for the board. Each candidate was interviewed and the panel held two public meetings before submitting a list of 27 potential appointees to the Parker administration on March 12.

“I am proud to announce my nine nominations for the Board of Education,” Parker said in a release Monday. “I promised to seek out the best candidates for this important board, and to identify a group that has the skills and experience, knowledge and wisdom to serve on our Board of Education. I said I wanted a school board with a diversity of skills, from different neighborhoods, sectors and communities, some with deep knowledge, some with new ideas, a group that truly reflects my vision of One Philly, a United City. I’m confident we’ve assembled that board, and that they are fully committed to sound governance and the best interests of the 197,000 students in our school system, as well as families, faculty and staff.”

The Board of Education oversees the School District of Philadelphia and approves applications for charter school. Members serve four-year terms that start with the election or re-election of mayors.

“I would like to thank Mayor Cherelle Parker for selecting new board members, who have experience and connections to public education in Philadelphia, and I look forward to working in partnership with them to significantly improve student outcomes through our five-year strategic plan, Accelerate Philly,” said Superintendent Tony B. Watlington in a statement Monday afternoon. “I want to also thank current board members for their dedicated service to our students and schools, as well as their Goals and Guardrails vision for student achievement.”

Cubbage has worked in education for decades, transitioning from classroom teaching to working with education-related organizations like Jobs for the Future. Her resume includes working with Drexel University and the School District to open new schools, and starting a non-profit called Teachable Moments International. She currently serves as executive director for The Philadelphia Learning Collaborative, a non-profit involved with training teachers and partnering schools with businesses.

Harper worked for years with the School District, starting as a teacher and going all the way to Director of Human Resources under former Superintendent Constance E. Clayton. After retiring, Harper worked for the state Department of Education, appointed by former Governor Ed Rendell to help districts achieve Adequate Yearly Progress. She currently is a trustee for Cheyney University.

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Jones brings extensive experience working on the financial side with charter schools. He worked with the KIPP Network of schools, along with the D.C. Public Charter School Board, handling various accounting and financial-related matters. He currently is the Chief Financial Officer for the Children’s Crisis Treatment Center.

Novales has taught in public and charter schools in Philadelphia. In partnership with Congreso de Latinos Unidos, she started the Pan American Charter School, where she served as principal. A board member of the Tacony Civic Association and the Philadelphia Gospel Movement, she is the Executive Pastor of the City Reach Church.

Stern is a pioneer in public finance law, with decades in the public and private sectors. She worked for Blank Rome and Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC, retiring from private law practice last year. From 1977 to 2023, she also worked as bond counsel and special counsel for the School District, the city, and the Commonwealth.

“My administration is laser-focused on supporting this board, Superintendent Tony B. Watlington and our many educators and staff to ensure every student has access to a world-class public education in Philadelphia,” Parker said.

The nine nominees must be confirmed by the City Council. The new terms would begin on May 1.

“Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker has decided to remake the Philadelphia Board of Education by appointing five new people to the nine-member body,” City Council President Kenyatta Johnson said in a statement Monday afternoon. “Mayor Parker has the authority to select board members that she feels will implement policies that will improve the educational outcomes for all Philadelphia public and charter school children. Her picks will now be submitted to City Council and our body will hold a public hearing to question the appointees thoroughly before voting on each nominee. Councilmembers are looking forward to hearing from each nominee.”

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