Camelot’s CAO receives lifetime achievement award

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

by Naveed Ahsan

Camelot’s chief academic officer, Nilsa Gonzalez, received the lifetime achievement award in October from the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents at the organization’s annual conference in Denver.

“When you get a recognition that focuses on the Latino community, it’s like winning an Emmy,” said Gonzalez, who has been a part of ALAS, which recruits and promotes the advancement of Latino school leaders, since the organization began 10 years ago.

Today, as the chief academic officer at Camelot — a for-profit, alternative education provider– she helps shape the organization’s goals at its campuses throughout Pennsylvania, Illinois, Colorado, New Jersey, Texas, and Florida.

Gonzalez began her career as an educator over 40 years ago in Philadelphia, where she once worked as a bilingual teacher in the School District of Philadelphia and as the associate superintendent for a department that was then called the Office of Leadership and Learning.

Camelot operates school models for students who are at risk of dropping out, who are overage and under-credited, who have been expelled, and who have learning disabilities. These students are placed in four distinct types of schools: transitional schools, accelerated schools, therapeutic day schools, and turnaround schools.

“Nilsa Gonzalez has had a profound and lasting effect on the lives of students across this country. She continues to pave the way for children to find social and academic success,” said Raymond Rodriguez, Camelot’s chief strategy officer, in a statement.

"Nilsa has served as a mentor and friend to so many people in the ALAS community so it is appropriate that she receives the lifetime achievement award on the occasion of the organization’s 10th anniversary.”

Under Gonzalez’s leadership this year, Camelot opened several schools, including Excel Academy Southwest of Denver, a transitional school in partnership with Denver Public Schools; Achieve Academy, an accelerated school in Reading, Pa.; and schools in Chester and Scranton, Pa.

In Philadelphia, Camelot runs accelerated, transitional, and therapeutic schools, including Excel Academy North, Excel Academy South, Camelot Academy, and Aspira Excel Academy.

Camelot’s plan to lease the Germantown High School building and move three of its programs into the now-vacant property was put on hold earlier this year, after the District said the building’s condition was not fit for students.

Naveed Ahsan is an intern at the Notebook.