Chief academic officer Cheryl Logan departing to lead Omaha district

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

Cheryl Logan, the Philadelphia District’s chief of academic support, is leaving to lead Omaha Public Schools.

She will be that district’s first black superintendent and only the second woman at the helm. The nine-member Omaha school board on Tuesday voted unanimously to hire her, according to a story in the Omaha World-Herald.

Logan has been with the District since 2013 and in her current position since 2015.

"I’m thrilled, I’m excited," Logan said in an interview. Logan said she has been in education for 28 years — as a teacher, assistant principal and principal in Maryland, and as an assistant superintendent and chief academic officer in Philadelphia.

"I am somebody who has done the hard work," she said. "I have learned everything I think I need to know to have the technical skills to do the job."

She worked with Superintendent William Hite in Prince Georges County, MD, and followed him to Philadelphia less than a year after he arrived in 2012.

A letter sent by Superintendent William Hite sent to District staff praised Logan.

"Under her leadership, the District has made great progress, such as: the establishment of a 9th grade academy in every comprehensive high school; increased high school graduation rates; the creation of the first middle college in Philadelphia and the only one operating in the entire Commonwealth; the expansion of Career and Technical Education programs; a substantial growth in reading achievement among students at every level from 3rd through 7th grade; and the opportunity for more than 105,000 students to take the SAT and PSAT for free since 2015."

Hite said he would update staff on plans for "transition" in the wake of Logan’s departure.

Logan was selected after she and one other finalist were interviewed in public by the board. The World-Herald described an enthusiastic response to her hiring, including from the teachers’ union.

Bridget Donovan, president of the Omaha Education Association, was quoted as saying: “I think she’s going to be a uniter. “We feel as if they didn’t just hire a boss, they hired a partner.”

Omaha is a diverse district of 53,000 students and 90 schools, Logan said. About a third of the students are Latino, a quarter African American, a quarter white, and the rest Asian, a population that is growing. She said the city has attracted refugees and there are also migrant workers.

About three-fourths of the students are low-income, qualifying for free and reduced price lunch.

It also is home to several big industries, including Berkshire Hathaway and ConAgra, and soon will have Facebook and Google.

In Philadelphia, Logan said she is proudest of having increased the number of eighth graders taking algebra; the creation of the state’s first middle college at Parkway Center City High School (where students get high school and college credits simultaneously), and the District’s early literacy initiative.

She said she also worked to rebuild the District’s academic support office after it had been diminished due to severe budget cuts early in Hite’s tenure caused by a drop in state and federal dollars.

Logan earned her doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania while here.

"Philadelphia has been very good to me," Logan said. "I’ve had a wonderful run here and learned a lot that is going to position me to be successful in Omaha."