Kate Mehok is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Crescent City Schools. Kate has over 15 years of experience in education serving the needs of high-risk students in public schools. Kate received a BA in political science from Haverford College and an EdM in Educational Leadership from Columbia University Teacher’s College. She began her teaching career as a corps member in Teach for America, teaching math and science to 7th and 8th graders in Baltimore. Kate moved to New Orleans to serve as the Dean of Faculty for the Summerbridge program at Isidore Newman school, coach basketball, and teach a 9th grade Civics class. As Dean of Faculty, Kate recruited, trained, and supported high school and college students from the New Orleans public schools. At Summerbridge, Kate began her work on curriculum and instruction and learned the value of using well-crafted long-term plans to guide young teachers as they learned to teach. It was at Summerbridge where Kate first saw the inequities of education in New Orleans; there were few high-quality public school options for Summerbridge families, and few could afford private school tuition.
With school leadership in mind, Kate returned to the Northeast to attend graduate school at Columbia University Teacher’s College, where she spent two years examining the factors that go into creating great schools. Visiting and working in some of the most successful schools in New York City, Kate was able to refine her vision of high-performing schools and earned her EdM in Educational Leadership, receiving both her Principal’s and Superintendent’s License.
In 2003, Kate had the opportunity to put many of her theories to practice as the founding Assistant Principal for curriculum and instruction at KIPP STAR College Prep Charter School in Harlem. Working closely with a founding school leader, Kate set the vision for instruction, put practices and procedures in place to ensure that teachers were holding students to the highest expectations, and influenced every aspect of student learning. Over the next five years, Kate witnessed the amazing things that occur when a school fuses great systems around behavior management and school culture with great systems around teaching and learning. Kate led the early charge to use data to drive instructional decision-making, which led to KIPP STAR becoming a national model for strong academic planning and strong instructional delivery. During Kate’s 5-year tenure at KIPP STAR, the school was one of the highest performing schools in Harlem. Students who entered as 5th graders in 2003 performing in the 35th percentile in reading and 44th percentile in math, graduated as 8th graders performing in the 60th percentile in reading and 75th percentile in math. In 2007, on the New York State math exam, 8th graders at KIPP STAR outperformed their Harlem peers by over 40%. In 2007, Kate received the Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award, given yearly to the top educators in the KIPP Network. Founding and leading in a school for 5 years gave Kate the incredible experience of growing a school to full capacity. The lessons learned from founding a school and adjusting it to meet student needs each year is invaluable, and Kate has been able to bring this experience to her current work coaching principals in New Orleans charter schools.
Kate’s journey back to New Orleans was inspired by the educational reforms taking shape in her former city. Since the fall of 2008 when she bought a house and moved her family to the city, Kate has helped launch and support ten charter schools by providing direct support to new school leaders at New Schools for New Orleans. This work confirmed Kate’s belief that strong systems around culture and instruction are the key to creating and maintaining a successful school. As CEO, Kate brings leadership, vision, and a commitment to raising student achievement in New Orleans public schools.