Superintendent Roger León Appoints Principal to Lead the New Michelle Obama Elementary School


[February 26, 2021] Superintendent Roger León appoints Ms. LaShanda Gilliam, Vice Principal of Thirteenth Avenue School to be the Principal of the new Michelle Obama Elementary School, set to open its doors in September 2021. The Superintendent is confident that the Michelle Obama Elementary School will profoundly redefine education in the city of Newark. The Michelle Obama Elementary School will begin at the academic level of Pre-K3 and grow a new grade level each year.

“Ms. Gilliam has done an absolutely incredible job in our school district. She understands the realities of our students and will continue to be an inspiration to students and their families.” said Superintendent León.

Raised in Newark, Ms. Gilliam attended Newark Public Schools and graduated from West Side High School. In 1995, she graduated from Montclair State University, beginning her career as a first grade teacher at Benjamin Franklin School in Newark, New Jersey. Soon thereafter, Ms. Gilliam received a Master’s degree in Reading from Montclair State University. After becoming a licensed Reading Specialist, she worked as a Resource Teacher Coordinator for the Office of Language Arts Literacy. It was during this tenure that Ms. Gilliam began to see the incredible impact she was making across the district in a variety of schools. As a result of this revelation, Ms. Gilliam decided she wanted to become a school-based instructional leader. After receiving a second Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Fordham University, she became the Vice Principal of Vailsburg Middle School in 2005. Ms. Gilliam later transferred to Thirteenth Avenue School where she has flourished for the past ten years. Her tenure at Thirteenth Avenue has been marked by quality leadership and a positive climate and culture. It has also been during this time that she has been able to help lead Thirteenth Avenue School to an increase in teacher retention and student achievement.

Ms. Gilliam said “When students are given a positive learning environment, strong and knowledgeable leadership, they undoubtedly thrive.” She added, “The Michelle Obama Elementary School will be the pillar of public service, building excellence in every student as they powerfully impact the city of Newark and the world.”

For more information, please contact:
Newark Board of Education
Nancy Deering, Interim Executive Director