Inauguration Ceremony


On Friday, October 16, the Trustees of Bank Street College of Education hosted an estimated 700 attendees for the formal inauguration of Shael Polakow-Suransky as the College’s eighth president. The inauguration ceremony kicked off a weekend of activities at Bank Street—all open to the community—celebrating the College’s centennial, including a symposium examining how to create “the schools we want,” and a street fair for the children in the community.

President Suransky became the eighth president of Bank Street College of Education on July 1, 2014, and is the first alumnus of the College to serve as its president.

In his speech, President Suransky laid out a vision for Bank Street as it moves into its second century and talked about the vision, discipline, and creativity that will be needed to effectively bring Bank Street’s strengths-based approach to public settings in New York City and across the country. He shared five guiding principles for that work that come from his experience as a teacher, principal, and district leader:

  1. Children need to be known well;
  2. In schools, the way adults learn always shapes the way students learn;
  3. Evidence matters;
  4. Change is sustained by purposeful and detailed planning; and
  5. Innovation requires autonomy.

Under his leadership, Bank Street is building new models for teacher education, expanding its work with public schools, and connecting research to practice in ways that improve the lives of children and families. In September, Bank Street announced the establishment of the Straus Center for Young Children and Families, which will advance research and policy in the realm of early childhood development and learning from birth to age eight.

The inaugural ceremony, which featured a keynote address by renowned educator and thinker Linda Darling-Hammond, was held at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. Also appearing at the inauguration were Speaker of the New York State Assembly Carl Heastie and former New York City Schools Chancellor and Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott.

“Shael is a person that I have a tremendous amount of respect for,” said Walcott. “He is an individual with keen intellect, a desire to do well, but more importantly, a perseverance to make sure he raises the standard for all of us. He brings those traits to his current job at Bank Street College.”

View highlights from the ceremony and read the president's full speech online.

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