Team Member Spotlight: Jim Schwartz

We would not be able to fulfill our mission without our staff, a group of professionals who intentionally work across difference, are experts in their field, and care deeply about young people and their postsecondary journeys. 

Each month, we’ll highlight a member of our team by “passing the mic” to hear directly from them about their work and purpose. This month, we are highlighting our Transformation Manager: Jim Schwartz. 

What do you do at the Network for College Success? 

As a Transformation Manager, I help lead a team of coaches who serve across the city of Chicago and across the country. I primarily work with our Partner School Network, which includes 16 Chicago public high schools, and the 11 NCS coaches who support those schools. I also coach principals and Instructional Leadership Teams in five of those schools. 

How do you help high school teams build on the work they’re doing and make improvements? 

I help high school teams build on their own wisdom, that of their colleagues, and that of their students and families. To do so, they must reach out to others to make decisions in partnership with them. Teams need to design cycles of learning with the needs of their students and the capacity of their staff members in mind, and I need to support team members to remain cognizant of the constant need for and ability to achieve growth – their students, their colleagues, and theirs. 

What about the culture of NCS empowers you to show up the way you do?

I experience NCS as a very nurturing yet demanding organization. As we all do, I make mistakes in my work, and I know that as a culture we are OK with making mistakes. I also know that the work that I do is essential to the students our schools serve, and that I am accountable to those students and to my own stance about what those students need. My colleagues and supervisors remind me of these facts when I let them slip from time to time. 

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?

The most rewarding aspect of my job is the direct coaching I provide to principals. I was a principal in Chicago Public Schools for 4 years, and it is one of the most challenging jobs in education – which means it’s one of the most challenging jobs, period. I was coached by NCS when I was a principal and my coach was a tremendous support to me in pushing my thinking and action to make a difference for the Black and Latinx students my school served. I hope I provide the same kind of challenge and support to the principals I coach now. 

Can you share a memorable moment or achievement during your time with NCS?

My most memorable moments in my time with NCS involve our annual Principals’ Retreats. Helping our principals step away from their day-to-day work, connect with one another, reinvigorate their passion, and return to their work renewed has to be one of the best parts of this job. 

Outside of work, what are some of your hobbies or interests that you enjoy pursuing?

I am passionate about my family – I spend much of my time with my spouse and our daughter. We enjoy travel, music, and supporting our English football team, Arsenal. You can find us watching the game in front of our TV or at the pub on most weekend mornings. I also love reading, listening to music, and spending time in nature. 
Want to meet other remarkable staff at NCS? Visit our staff directory page here.