Dr. Edward Ryans, left, and Dr. Laura Burgos, are the two WLC executive director finalists.

Learning Collab picks 2 finalists for executive director

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

Dr. Edward Ryans, left, and Dr. Laura Burgos, are the two WLC executive director finalists.

Dr. Edward Ryans, left, and Dr. Laura Burgos, are the two WLC executive director finalists.

The Wilmington Learning Collaborative has narrowed the search for an executive director to two finalists after months of appealing for applications and then sifting through more than 100 candidates.

Dr. Laura Burgos and Dr. Edward Ryans are the finalists for the job, said council member Alethea Smith-Tucker during the Thursday night meeting of the collaborative’s governing council meeting. 

The Wilmington Learning Collaborative is a state agency created in November 2022 to focus on children in nine city elementary schools across Brandywine, Red Clay and Christina school districts.

The executive director will implement the programs the collaborative endorses. The collaborative is expected to try novel ways to empower city students and families, as well as on-the-ground workers, by giving them a voice in policy making to improve student achievement metrics like test scores, absenteeism and graduation rates. 

The collaborative also hopes to connect families with social services to address issues such as  homelessness, poverty and hunger that can affect education.

Burgos, who lives in Wilmington, has experience in public, nonprofit and private education.

She holds three degrees: a 2000 bachelors in telecommunications from Penn State University; a 2003 master’s in elementary education and teaching from Brooklyn College; and a 2018 doctorate in education leadership from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.

She also earned an advanced certificate in educational administration and supervision from Hunter College in New York in 2007. 

Burgos now is director of school district partnerships for Leanlab Education, a national nonprofit specializing in codesign research between education technology companies and schools.

Before taking that job, Burgos spent nearly four years as a consultant and director of investment practice group at Venture Philanthropy Partners. It was founded in 2000 and invests in high-performing nonprofits in the greater Washington, D.C. area.

Ryans, who also has three degrees, has worked as a teacher and administrator in primary and secondary education.

He graduated from Morehouse College in Georgia in 2003 with a bachelors in English. He earned his first doctorate in 1998 in school administration and supervision from Bowie State University in Maryland, where in 2009 he received a doctorate in urban educational leadership.

This is his 30th year working in Prince George’s County Public Schools, Maryland’s second-largest school system. It serves more than 130,000 students. 

Ryans has  been an instructional director, director of school turnaround, assistant principal, principal, teacher and academic coordinator. 

He’s also an adjunct professor of 10 years, teaching various education-centered courses at American InterContinental University in Illinois since 2018. 

The collaborative’s new director will become the 15th member of the governing council.

The job description for its executive director position cites an annual salary of $156,257 to $175,616.

Council members also said they would approach the three school boards involved in the district to alter their memorandum of understanding and give the council more time to act.

It’s original planning period was set to end with this year’s school year. Delays in hiring an executive director and conducting a needs and root-cause assessment at schools has put it behind schedule.

Because amendment details were primarily discussed in executive session, which isn’t open to the public, it is unclear how lengthy an extension council members will ask for.  

Christina’s board meeting is June 8 at 7 p.m, Brandywine’s is June 12 at 7 p.m and Red Clay’s is June 21 at 7 p.m. Click on the district to access a virtual livestream of the meeting.

The council also announced Thursday that they have a handful of CPAs they are talking to about helping them draft a preliminary annual operating budget. 

It also voted to approve its bylaws, which include policies, procedures and more. They have not been released to the public.

The council’s next meeting is June 15 at 6 p.m. Watch it here.

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