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Dr. Deborah Hirsch Named President of Woodrow Wilson Graduate School

For Release: Monday, March 11, 2019
Contact: Patrick Riccards | | (703) 298-8283

Woodrow Wilson Graduate School of Teaching and Learning Names Dr. Deborah Hirsch President of Cutting-Edge Graduate School

CAMBRIDGE, MA (March 11, 2019) – The WW Graduate School’s Board of Trustees today announced that Dr. Deborah Hirsch has been unanimously selected as president of the innovative new graduate school of education. Most recently the WW Graduate Schools’s vice president for strategic initiatives, Dr. Hirsch previously served as executive director of the Graduate School (founded as the WW Academy) leading the team that established the post-baccalaureate institution, securing its degree-granting authority from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and transitioning it into an independent institution of higher education in 2018.

“Last fall, the Woodrow Wilson Graduate School welcomed its first class of graduate students as it continued to develop its groundbreaking approach to teacher education. There is no one who knows the Graduate School , its history, and its possibility better than Deborah Hirsch. She has been with us since the WW Graduate School was just a kernel of an idea, and there is no better person to lead this institution during this critical time in higher education than Deborah Hirsch,” said Carl Ferenbach, the chairman of the WW Graduate School Board and founder of the High Meadows Foundation.

With an undergraduate education in teacher education, Hirsch holds a doctorate in education from Harvard University, Hirsch has served as executive director of both the Boston Higher Education Partnership and the New England Resource Center for Higher Education. She has also held leadership posts at numerous colleges and universities in New England.

“I am delighted to serve as president of the Woodrow Wilson Graduate School of Teaching and Learning and to lead this important effort to transform how the next generation of teachers are prepared to successfully lead the classrooms and schools of tomorrow,” Hirsch said.  “Working with a talented team of faculty and staff from the Graduate School and MIT, we are designing a program that will transform teacher education, focus on the best in cognitive science and ensure that all prospective teachers have mastery in the core content and pedagogy needed to succeed as a teacher.”

Hirsch succeeds James Tracy as WW Graduate School president. After serving as the first president of the Graduate School , Tracy has decided to vigorously pursue his writing, advising, and entrepreneurial activities.

“It has been an honor to serve as president of the Academy and to be a part of such an important effort to transform higher education as we know it,” Tracy said.

The WW Academy, in collaboration with MIT, is reinventing teacher education for the 21st century. Teacher candidates progress through a problem-based, individualized, adaptive curriculum by mastering core teaching competencies. WW Academy students experience the challenge-based curriculum in a blended environment, including online and face-to-face learning. Candidates are also immersed in clinical settings throughout their formal education in both Boston-area public schools and outside-of-school-time (OST) environments. Throughout their first two years of teaching they receive continued mentoring and professional development.

In late 2017, the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education approved the Academy’s application to establish a mastery-based graduate school of education. This followed approval from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to offer an initial, post-baccalaureate license for middle and secondary school teachers in biology, chemistry, and math.

The Amgen Foundation, Barr Foundation, Bezos Family Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Simons Foundation, and several anonymous major donors have supported the development of the WW Academy to date.


About the Woodrow Wilson Academy of Teaching and Learning
The Woodrow Wilson Academy of Teaching and Learning ( seeks to transform teacher education by creating a model to prepare teachers and school leaders to succeed in the diverse classrooms of today and to shape and lead the schools of tomorrow.

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