Growing up on Maryland’s eastern shore, where he witnessed the impact of institutional racism, Sam developed a deep belief in racial justice and opportunity for all. This experience drove his decision to start his career as a teacher. In each subsequent role he’s held, Sam has continued to tackle the challenge of making a great education available to every child.
Sam’s achievements in social justice, education policy, and management have been widely recognized. As a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College, he took the vision of his graduate team’s capstone research project and founded The Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy. Launched in 2009 as part of the Pittsburgh public school system, the academy continues to be the highest performing high school in the city in terms of academics, according to the Pennsylvania School Performance Profile.
Following that achievement, Sam led an $80 million initiative to improve teacher effectiveness across all Pittsburgh city schools. That effort required starting a new Office of Teacher Effectiveness, raising $40 million, developing a state-of-the-art teacher evaluation system, and ratifying a new collective bargaining agreement all in his first year on the job. These experiences, and the colleagues and mentors Sam had in Pittsburgh, have deeply influenced his approach to leading change, and getting things done in challenging environments. For these accomplishments, Sam earned Carnegie Mellon’s Recent Alumni Award in 2012 and the Pittsburgh region’s 40 under 40 Award in 2014. After serving on the executive team of two city superintendents, Sam was awarded a special executive residency at Carnegie Mellon. There, he taught five graduate courses and consulted with organizations on strategy and project management.
As evidenced by the immersive learning environments he works to create at AltSchool, Sam believes that there is no better education than real-world experience. Passionate about travel, he’s taken five road trips across the U.S., backpacked through Europe, and spent two months in Southeast Asia. He also embraces learning and self-expression in many forms, including writing poetry, polishing his rapping skills, and becoming a certified forklift operator. Sam is a voracious reader, particularly on topics of race, American history, and politics.
Today, as VP of Schools, he works tirelessly to improve the quality of education in AltSchool’s lab schools. Beyond that, he helps define the ongoing co-development between educators and engineers, a process by which we create the tools and strategies that will make learner-centric education available to every child, regardless of race or class.
Sam began his career as a sixth-grade math and science teacher in Oakland before moving to Pittsburgh to earn his master’s degree in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College. His latest challenge and real-world learning experience is in his newest role as a dad—a development that has further stoked his passion for transforming education.
Pittsburgh Magazine 40 Under 40: 2014
For his work reforming the city’s public school system, Sam was recognized as one of Pittsburgh’s 40 Under 40.
Meet Seven Innovators Changing Pittsburgh Education
Read about Sam’s journey from Oakland middle school math teacher to head of Pittsburgh public school district's Office of Teacher Effectiveness.
Carnegie Mellon University Alumni Voice
Sam’s experience with Teach for America in Oakland laid the foundation for the work he’s doing in education reform today.
A regular contributor to the AltSchool blog, Sam also writes on educational topics including school design, educator effectiveness, and organizational strategy.
A Community United by a Common Vision
AltSchool is working to create a network of shared growth and scalable change. Learn more about our approach.
Our Vision for Lab Schools
Learn more about our vision for AltSchool’s lab schools, and how we're creating the learning conditions for students to reach their potential.
Thanks for a Great Year!
Operating schools is complex and challenging. Sam reflects on the progress we made in the 2017-18 school year.