Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed the fourth Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Public Schools in less than two years Friday, following the resignation of Jean-Claude Brizard.
"This is the time for new leadership to take us to the next level to achieve what we need to achieve for our children," said Emanuel during a press conference before introducing Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who he referred to as B3, the new CPS CEO.
Byrd-Bennett, who had served as the Chief Education Advisor for CPS, steps into the top spot of the nation's third largest school system.
“I am honored by the opportunity to further serve Chicago’s students and lead the District in providing a high-quality education in every school and every neighborhood across the city,” said Byrd-Bennett. “First and foremost, I am a teacher at heart and my focus is providing the tools teachers and students need to boost student achievement and help them succeed.”
Spokeswoman for the Mayor's office, Sarah Hamilton, said 62-year-old Byrd-Bennett would step into the role, but it was not official until Emanuel announced it during his press conference. However, the CPS website listed her as the CPS CEO ahead of the mayor's official announcement.
Byrd-Bennett, a New York native, has a wide range of experience in education that spans across three decades.
“She taught in the classroom for over 12 years; was a principal for eight; has put struggling schools on the path to higher achievement and balanced her school districts’ finances," said Emanuel. "Most importantly, she has helped students in urban centers across the country succeed, and I know she will use that experience here to help our children learn and excel.”
She holds a Master’s of Science from Pace University, a Master’s of the Arts from New York University and a Bachelor’s of the Arts from Long Island University, according to the CPS website.
She is married with one daughter and twin grandsons.