The Devil Strip Profiles Christine Fowler Mack

APS in the News
Posted on 08/25/2021
Image of Christine Fowler Mack with students(Abbey Marshall for theDevilStrip.com)

Returning to Akron Public Schools was a full-circle moment for incoming superintendent Christine Fowler Mack, who was schooled and first taught in the district 25 years ago.

Not only does the moment feel momentous for Fowler Mack, a Goodyear Heights native and graduate of East High School and The University of Akron, but it is also a historic moment for the district. Not only is she the first female superintendent, she is also the first woman of color to hold the superintendent position in Akron Public’s 174-year history.

“I’m so excited to be stepping into this position, and it’s so important that everyone — all the students — can see themselves and people who look like them in every capacity,” she said.

Fowler Mack, 55, started her teaching career instructing sixth-graders at Robinson Academy (now Robinson CLC). After earning her administration credentials, she moved into administrative roles at Kent City Schools, Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District and Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Her most recent post before being named APS superintendent in April was Chief of Portfolio Planning, Growth & Management in Cleveland.

Now, 25 years later, she is back, replacing David James who led APS for 13 years before leaving the district to serve as Columbus Public Schools’ deputy superintendent for operations.

“I feel indebted to Akron, not only because I feel like I got a great start in my educational experience, but coming back in my initial years as a teacher, Akron was just one of those places that not only developed me, but I felt cared for, included, like I belonged,” Fowler Mack said. “The opportunity to do work here with this community was very attractive to me.”

Following a tumultuous year of instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic that forced students out of traditional classroom spaces, Fowler Mack is stepping in at a critical time in education.

“Our number one challenge is figuring how to best reopen and recover from the last year and a half of the pandemic where things were disrupted not only in our space but every space,” she said. “It’s about reopening, recovering and leveraging this moment to reimagine because of things we learned from the pandemic about the need to personalize the education for students and ensure wraparound support.”

In a district that faces challenges such as student housing insecurity and a lack of broadband access, bridging the gap of inequity that became increasingly apparent during the pandemic is going to be an arduous task that takes creative solutions, Fowler Mack said.
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