Nashville's KIPP Academy Charter School Principal Receives Prestigious Ryan Award

Laura Miguez Howarth, principal of KIPP Academy Nashville since 2011, today was named a recipient of the Ryan Award for exceptional leadership in closing the achievement gap in urban K-12 schools. The prestigious award includes a $25,000 honorarium and the opportunity to teach her successful methodologies at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Pat Ryan, Jr., founder of the Accelerate Institute which sponsors the award, presented Howarth with a $25,000 check in a surprise school assembly. “We created the Ryan Awards four years ago to recognize the leaders of the most successful transformational schools in the country,” Ryan said. “We want to not only honor these individuals, but enlist them as role models to help current and future principals learn from their successes. Laura Miguez Howarth is the embodiment of excellent school leadership.”

The Ryan Awards are distributed through the Chicago-based Accelerate Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of high-impact urban school leaders who accelerate student achievement.

Miguez Howarth was called to an assembly of the KIPP Academy student body that was actually a ruse to surprise her with the announcement. Miguez Howarth said she was honored with the award, but acknowledged that “it’s strong relationships between parents, kids and teachers that lead to fundamentally transformed outcomes. At KIPP, our student families are deeply engaged from the very beginning of our kids’ work.”

KIPP Academy serves a minority population of 360 students in grades 5-8 in the East Nashville area, offering a rigorous college preparatory program. Students become part of a college-going culture that teaches and reinforces the scholarly skills and habits needed for success in college and in life.

Miguez Howarth began her teaching career there in 2008, was promoted to Dean of Students in 2010 and principal in 2011. Under her leadership, KIPP Academy was a SCORE Prize Finalist the last two years, a coveted recognition of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education. It also has been named a Tennessee Reward School for having achieved top five percent student growth in the state, and has been recognized by the Education Consumer Foundation for top K-8 student growth in Middle Tennessee.

KIPP Academy has consistently outperformed other schools in the state and city, according to testing results in the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program. In test data from the 2014-2015 school year, KIPP Academy students ranked at a 75.3 percent proficiency level in Math, compared to 52 percent for the state average and 47.4 percent for the Davidson County average. In English/Language Arts, KIPP scored 62 percent compared to 48.4 and 39.3 percent for the state and city, respectively.

State Report Card data, as measured by the Tennessee Value-Added System, gave KIPP Academy grades of A in Achievement, B in Reading and A in Science, with straight As in the same subject areas for student growth, for the 2014-2015 school year.

Miguez Howarth is the first of two Ryan Award winners to be announced this year. Winners are nominated by education leaders across the country. Criteria are: nominees must be K-12 principals for at least four years with a measurable record of consecutive student achievement growth. This fourth class of Ryan Awardees will be celebrated at the Accelerate Institute’s annual Impact Dinner later this year in Chicago.

The Accelerate Institute is dedicated to ensuring all children have the opportunity to achieve to their fullest potential. It identifies high performing, results-focused school leadership with a passion for closing the achievement gap in urban education. For further information on the Ryan Awards and the Accelerate Institute, visit:

For further information about KIPP Academy Nashville, visit: