A honor for former Philadelphia schools chief Paul Vallas

Posted: June 14, 2011

Former Philadelphia schools chief executive Paul Vallas will be honored Tuesday night in Philadelphia by a new nonprofit group that seeks to offer services to charter schools and districts across the country.

American Paradigm Schools will also honor Jeremy Nowak, president and chief executive of the Reinvestment Fund. The Reinvestment Fund, a nonprofit group that finances neighborhood and economic-development projects, has helped charter schools obtain financing for their buildings.

American Paradigm Schools, a national, nonprofit educational management organization, aims to replicate the successful operation of two Philadelphia charter schools.

Gerald Santilli and Stacey L. Cruise, the cofounders, will present the awards during a ceremony at the Independence Visitors Center.

Vallas, who left Philadelphia in 2007, has been well-known as a supporter of educational change. A Chicago native who headed the schools there, Vallas most recently was superintendent of the Recovery School District in New Orleans.

Vallas will speak about educational change in America along with Soledad O'Brien, CNN special-investigations correspondent.

Santilli is a former executive director of financial services for the Philadelphia School District and a principal with Santilli & Thomson, a Marlton firm that provides financial management and other services to charter schools.

Santilli was a founder of First Philadelphia Charter School for Literacy, which opened in 2002 in Lower Frankford. Cruise is a former principal there.

In 2009, they opened Tacony Academy Charter School to replicate First Philadelphia's academic and award-winning character-education program.

Contact staff writer Martha Woodall at 215-854-2789 or at martha.woodall@phillynews.com.