Letter from Chancellor & District 15 Superintendant
David C. Banks is Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, the largest school system in the nation. Appointed on January 1, 2022, he is the former President and CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation, and the founding principal of The Eagle Academy for Young Men, the first school in a network of innovative all-boys public schools in New York City and Newark, N.J.
David is a lifelong New Yorker, born in Brooklyn, and proud graduate of New York City public schools, attending P.S. 161 in Brooklyn and Hillcrest High School in Queens. After a year working as a school safety officer, he began his first teaching job at P.S. 167 in his childhood neighborhood on Eastern Parkway. From there, he went on to become a founding principal at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice, and later at the Eagle Academy for Young Men.
David’s vision of education emphasizes a partnership between schools and communities based on the guiding principles of academic excellence, leadership, and character development. With the Eagle Academy Foundation, he set out to prove that a high-quality college preparatory education for young men of color can be provided in a public-school setting.
In 2004, David led the establishment of the first Eagle Academy for Young Men as part of New York City’s high school reform initiative in partnership with 100 Black Men, Inc. The Eagle model has since been adopted in schools throughout all five New York City boroughs and Newark, N.J., expanding nationally through the Eagle Institute.
In 2019, in partnership with Scholastic, David helped curate the Rising Voices Library, a collection of nonfiction, biographical, and fiction books celebrating Black and Latino boys designed to provide students in grades K–5 with high-interest, culturally-relevant texts that give context to what they’re experiencing in the world around them. He also authored the nonfiction title SOAR: How Boys Learn, Succeed, and Develop Character, published in 2015.
David is a co-founder of Black EdFluencers United, an organization dedicated to influencing and developing the capacity of Black educators and raising awareness about systemic challenges within education. He has also served as a member of the Board of Directors for the International Boys’ Schools Coalition, co-chair of New York City Young Men's Initiative, and founding board member of the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color.
David is a graduate of Rutgers University and received his Juris Doctorate from St. John’s University School of Law. In 2003 David participated in the Cahn Fellows Program for Distinguished Principals at the Teachers College Columbia University. In May 2014, David was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in education from Wheelock College. David lives in New York City. He has four adult children and three granddaughters.
Rafael T. Alvarez, Community Superintendent
Dear District 15 Community,
I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as the Community School District 15 Superintendent. As a proud product of Brooklyn public schools and borough resident I am excited to be home! I began my career in Sunset Park as an elementary school teacher and I am grateful to return to the district that nurtured and inspired my journey as an educator and leader.
My career with the Department of Education has spanned over 20 years. For the past four years I have served as the Superintendent of District 7 and prior to that I was the Deputy Superintendent for District 10 where I supported 58 schools. As a former Assistant Principal and Principal, I understand the vital role that school building leaders play in creating joyful and equitable learning communities and look forward to supporting each leader.
District 15 has always been at the forefront of exceptional instructional experiences and is a current vanguard in promoting integration, diversity, equity and inclusion. My goal is to build upon these proud traditions through collaboration and shared decision making. Over the course of the next several weeks, I will embark on a listening and learning tour to gain a deeper understanding of the district’s unique assets and challenges. I look forward to meeting with leaders, staff, students, families, elected officials, and community members. These meetings will serve as a springboard for our collaborative strategic planning.
As we begin to learn about each other, I leave you with my pledge as Superintendent to:
- Collaborate with all stakeholders to create a culturally responsive learning environment in which children have the opportunity to develop to their full potential in a safe, affirming, warm, and welcoming atmosphere. I believe that education must be a child-centered learning environment. Through this child-centered approach to education, students will be challenged yet experience success, become excited about learning, and be motivated to remain learners throughout their lives.
- Create an environment that fosters life-long learning. This attitude in students is promoted by creating an environment that encourages students’ natural curiosity so they may develop an excitement for learning. Students need the opportunity to experience hands-on, real-life learning experiences that will challenge, motivate, and light a passion for learning.
- Support teachers and leaders in cultivating anti-racists practices, policies, systems and structures, so that all of our students experience exceptional levels of success and are fully prepared to be leaders in our society.
- Celebrate successes using an asset-based approach that builds efficacy. As a district, we will promote and sustain best practices in our community. We will leverage the strengths which help us develop and thus build leadership confidence and success.
- Authentically engage and foster family leadership in the educational process through equitable shared decision making and transparency.
- Sustain, respect and grow partnerships with diverse community stakeholders so that we accelerate momentum towards our common goal of elevating and inspiring our students, families and community.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at RAlvare4@schools.nyc.gov. Again, I look forward to our collaborative journey together.