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June 12, 2023

Portland taps Philadelphia administrator for school superintendent post

The Portland Board of Public Education voted unanimously at its June 6 meeting to appoint Dr. Ryan Scallon as the next superintendent of the Portland Public Schools. 

Scallon, an assistant superintendent in the School District of Philadelphia, and has experience as a teacher, school principal and district administrator, working in diverse urban schools in Philadelphia, New York and Boston.

“I am truly humbled and honored to be provided this opportunity,” Scallon said. “I plan to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”

bearded man
Portland Public Schools
Ryan Scallon

Scallon said he believes in schools where students not only feel safe but are excited to be in school and are engaged by such offerings as music, art and extracurriculars, and where they also are pushed to achieve academically at high levels. He said his goal is to make sure all PPS students graduate prepared and empowered.

However, Scallon said, “I don’t think the work can be done alone.”

He said he looks forward to partnering in the work with the whole Portland Public Schools community — staff, students, families, community members and partners — and will be sharing more about developing a joint path forward.

Board Chair Sarah Lentz said, “From the first time we met Dr. Scallon, we knew he embodied the skills needed to move our district forward. Over the course of the interview process, the board and search committee spent hours with Ryan understanding his commitment to equity, his demonstrated success in building sustainable systems and operations and his deep and sustained investment in the staff and educators around him.”

Lentz continued, “Ryan is a deep listener, collaborative in nature, humble, and the bulk of his career has been in schools where the majority of students have been historically excluded. In addition to having experience as a teacher, principal, and administrator, Ryan is also a parent and brings all of these perspectives to the role.”

Scallon is married to a former teacher who is now director of a pre-service residency program for teachers and has three children. Scallon said his children would be providing valuable feedback about his performance leading the Portland Public Schools.

“My toughest critics will be around the dinner table each night,” he said.

The official start date of Scallon’s four-year contract is July 1. His annual salary will be $200,000.

Scallon holds a business degree from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a doctorate from Temple University. He also has a master’s in education in school administration from Penn.

He was drawn to teaching after an experience teaching world economics to a class of sixth-graders in West Philadelphia during his first year in college. He saw firsthand that not all students have the same opportunities or school-based experiences he had growing up in Wisconsin, and has devoted his career working to reduce such opportunity gaps.

After graduating with his business degree, Scallon was a middle school math teacher while earning his teaching credentials at night. He taught middle and high school math in Philadelphia and then Milwaukee. After completing the principal certification program at the University of Pennsylvania, Scallon was selected by New Leaders, a nationally recognized program for principal development, as one of 101 Resident Principals nationwide for a year-long residency designed to develop outstanding principals to lead high-achieving, urban schools. Over the next two years, he worked as a resident principal and then assistant principal at one of the highest-performing, non-special-admit high schools in New York City. Recognizing his organizational and academic leadership, the NYC Department of Education selected Scallon to lead a struggling expeditionary learning high school in the South Bronx. 

For the last 13 years, Scallon has served in a number of leadership roles in schools and central offices in Philadelphia and Boston. These roles include deputy chief of new schools, chief academic officer, and assistant superintendent. During that time, Scallon was fortunate to lead a number of teams that were each able to improve academic and social-emotional outcomes for students. Now, as the assistant superintendent for innovation and opportunity, Scallon partners with families, external partners, school leaders, central office departments and school staff to offer a range of innovative and progressive schools for students from competency-based to work based.

The board created a Superintendent Search Committee last fall after Superintendent Xavier Botana announced that he planned to retire this June after seven years on the job. Botana resigned early, in December, and was replaced on an interim basis by then-assistant superintendents Melea Nalli and Aaron Townsend.

During the six-month search, a pool of 47 candidates was narrowed down to two finalists in the middle of May — Scallon and Eric Moore, a senior advisor to the superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools. 


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