Featured Alumni Profiles

Clyde Cole

MA '04, Educational Administration

After attending a New York City Department of Education presentation on the possibilities of opening new schools, Clyde Cole decided to submit a proposal. “I’ve helped start two schools and a youth center already,” says Clyde, a 2004 educational administration graduate, “so this was very interesting to me.” Clyde’s proposal was accepted and this fall he will become the principal of the Urban Assembly Academy of Business and Community Development in Brooklyn, an all-boys school for 6th-to-12th grade students.

By his junior year at Northwestern University as a communications major, Clyde was becoming interested in a career in education. Not wanting to change majors so late in the game, Clyde says, “I took education classes and applied to ‘Teach for America.’ I then ran into my [former] guidance counselor and told him I wanted to teach. A few months later he called to tell me he knew someone who was starting an all boys, Catholic middle school in Harlem.” Clyde withdrew from Teach for America and taught at the Harlem school from 1991-1997 before leaving to start a youth center in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

As a Catholic schoolteacher Clyde was not required by law to earn a master’s degree as are public school teachers. By 2002, however, Clyde was looking to make the leap from teacher to principal and applied to NYU. “Every place I’d worked, I‘d always had at least some, if not all, of the administrative duties in addition to working with the kids. I wanted to get a formal administration degree. And I knew that I wanted to be a principal."

While studying at NYU, Clyde worked with Norm Fruchter and Carol Ascher at the NYU Institute for Education and Social Policy. “Working with them was a tremendous help because they gave me a lot of opportunities to do some real research in education and helped me look at things from a rigorous, academic prospective. I think the two years I spent working with them in addition to my course work at NYU really helped me put together the proposal for the Department of Education.”

After graduating from NYU Clyde joined the Aspiring Principals’ Program at the New York City Leadership Academy because he’d be guaranteed a principal position within one year. A few months into the program the Department of Education’s Office of New Schools presented the group with the possibilities and the process of opening a new school in New York City. As per Department of Education requirements, Clyde assembled a Planning Team, which included Urban Assembly, a nonprofit organization that has been founding schools since 1997, a fellow Aspiring Principal, a parent, a high school senior, three middle school principals, his former high school basketball coach, and two teachers, one of whom was once Clyde’s student.

In early 2005 Clyde presented his proposal for the Urban Assembly Academy of Business and Community Development. He chose the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn for the Academy because of its historically high drop-out rate. “The fact that students begin to fall behind at the middle school age is why I chose sixth to twelfth grade. I have a business theme for the school because that kind of high school preparation can tie in nicely to several college majors.”

In the students’ last few years at the Academy they will also learn about community and economic development – especially in urban communities. “I’m hoping that regardless of their college majors or future careers they will at least be socially minded and active adults.”

Sharing a building with IS 258 and its principal Stanley Walker, Clyde’s school will eventually turn its student body of 81 sixth-graders into a fully populated school of approximately 575 students. Since Clyde plans on running the Academy for years to come, he looks forward to a long fruitful relationship with his alma mater. “I'd like to work with the Institute for Education and Social Policy to assist me with the research component of my curriculum and to sponsor student teachers and administration interns from NYU.”