“Dr. Cynthia Wise has been a pillar in the Longview community and educational system. Dr. Cynthia Wise is clearly capable and competently trained to lead any campus. Few candidates possess her personality, drive, training, and foresight bundled together to successfully execute the CEO role. Dr. Cynthia Wise is rare – she is an asset. She will be missed.” ETAA Board President, Alan Amos.
Story and photos by Joycelyne Fadojutimi
Dr. Wise, a harbinger of education success and author of the Culture Conscious Campus (CCC), a comprehensive model has resigned her position as the Chief Executive Officer of East Texas Advance Academy, (ETAA),a non-profit organization dedicated to managing six in-district charter schools in the Longview ISD.
“Dr. Cynthia Wise has been a pillar in the Longview community and educational system,” said ETAA Board President, Alan Amos. “Dr. Cynthia Wise is clearly capable and competently trained to lead any campus. Few candidates possess her personality, drive, training, and foresight bundled together to successfully execute the CEO role. Dr. Cynthia Wise is rare – she is an asset. She will be missed.”
According to Secretary of ETAA Board, Reverend LaDarian Brown, ETAA is going in a different direction and will name an interim director soon. When asked if ETAA will continue the CCC model since the author is gone, Brown affirmative responded, “Dr. Wise taught the staff how to use the model and we are not trying to replace it.” To buttress his point, he quoted Wise, “Education and the CCC model will still go on without me.”
About Dr. Cynthia Wise
For 4 years, Dr. Wise served as Chief Executive Officer of East Texas Advanced Academies (ETAA). This is a non-profit organization dedicated to managing six in-district charter schools in the Longview ISD. East Texas Montessori Prep Academy, Bramlett STEAM Academy, Johnston-McQueen Elementary, J.L. Everhart IB Elementary, Ware Montessori Academy, and Forest Park IB Magnet School make up this network. ETAA was created as part of Senate Bill 1882, which paves the way for school districts to work in tandem with non-profit organizations to improve student performance.
“My role as CEO is an extension of my prior role as a successful principal of various inner-city campuses,” she said. “To ensure that all students within ETAA’s network experience academic and social/emotional success through the faithful implementation of my Culture Conscious Campus (CCC) model. CCC is a comprehensive model that I created. It encompasses four aspects of school culture to deliver exceptional outcomes for students.”
Wise’s teaching career started with 12 years as a high school history teacher. She then took steps to becoming a principal, earning her Master of Education Administration degree and her principal’s certification and later her doctorate degree. Her love for classroom teaching did not blind her to the realization that as a principal, she was in a better position to positively impact the lives of whole student bodies, and not limiting her influence to the confines of individual classrooms. She took the job of assistant principal with DeSoto ISD, working in this capacity for 9 years.
Wise became a fully-fledged principal when Longview ISD Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox hired her as principal of struggling Jodie McClure Magnet School in 2007. During her tenure at Jodie McClure, the school improved from the Texas Education Agency Needs Improvement grading to becoming a Recognized campus. When the LISD closed Jodie McClure and transferred its pupils to new Ned E. Williams Elementary, Dr. Wise came along as the school’s first principal.
Her influence was unmistakable and drastic as her students far exceeded the state’s academic expectations. Ned E. Williams became an “A” school. Most important of all, it became the highest-performing African American school in Texas. Wise was so effective in guiding her student body to academic success that Texas Education Commissioner Dr. Mike Morath sent Deputy Education Commissioner Martin Winchester to visit the school and see first-hand why it was being held up as a shining model of success. All the time Dr. Wise was principal at Ned E. Williams, she managed to simultaneously serve as principal of Bramlett Elementary. She was just getting started.
Wise moved on to the position of principal of another struggling school–Forest Park Middle School, where she spent another year as principal of two schools. Her two years at Forest Park saw it improve from earning 1 STAR Distinction to 5 STAR Distinctions. After her first year in these capacities, Bellwether Education Partners visited Forest Park to see what was behind all the accolades it was earning. Dr. Wise meticulously outlined her methods so that Bellwether officials could see her schools were models of excellence to be held up as examples to be copied to ensure widespread student success. This led her to organize the CCC. With the subsequent passage of SB 1882, the ETAA came into existence. For her, it was all in a day’s work.
“My day consists of meetings with various stakeholders to ensure that the overall vision and mission of ETAA is being met,” she said. “I visit campuses and meet with principals to review data and to implement action plans for student success.”
This collaboration also enabled her to work with faculty both at the schools and in board meetings to update board members and higher-level administrators on various scholastic matters. Furthermore, she provides her teachers with training to review the CCC model and the central tenets of the Wise Instructional Framework.
“I meet weekly with my curriculum department to ensure that the instructional practices that they observe match the rigors of the TEKS,” she said.
She loves how her status as an educator permits her to play a vital role in young minds receiving quality education, which she regards as a civil rights issue. She works to achieve what she perceives as a moral and legal commitment to bring out children’s positive attributes that already exist in them. The vital aspect of this objective is crystal clear to her.
“We all know that the number of prisons built in this country is predicated on fourth grade reading scores,” she said. “By ensuring the students have access to a quality education we are not only improving their lives, but the community as well.”
However, she is concerned that many people harbor opinions that could hamper young minds in receiving quality schooling. She sees this as another challenge of her profession to be faced and overcome.
“I think that oftentimes people’s egos get in the way, and they forget that it’s not about us,” she said. “It’s ultimately about the children and working together to ensure that they are successful.”
DR. CYNTHIA WISE EDUCATION ADVOCACY HIGHLIGHTS/ACHIEVEMENTS
*Jodie McClure Magnet ES from Needs Improvement to Recognized School.
*Ned E. Williams ES turned it into an “A” school and highest performing predominantly African American school in Texas.
*Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath sent Texas Education Deputy Commissioner Martin Winchester and held it up as a model of success.
*Ned E. Williams maintained the maximum of 6 STARS Distinction under Dr. Wise.
*Forest Park Middle School moved from 1 STAR Distinction to 5 STAR Distinctions.
*Bellwether Education Partners, a “national nonprofit focused on dramatically changing education and life outcomes for underserved children.” and several campuses across the country visit Dr. Wise to hear firsthand how she is turning failing schools with low socioeconomic population schools into star studded, high performing academies.
* East Texas Advanced Academies formed.
Her entire life’s mission revolves around helping others, young and old. She loves being her brother’s keeper and uses her career as the vehicle to accomplish her unselfish, loving goals.
“I’ve done this by working in education and ensuring that students regardless of their background receive a world-class education,” Wise said.
According to ETAA press release, “ETAA and Longview ISD are so appreciative of Dr. Wise’s leadership of this organization and wish her all the best.”