By Carol Elizabeth Owens
The Rochester City School District (RCSD) has appointed four new leaders from within its ranks.
According to information provided by RCSD, Superintendent Dr. Lesli Myers-Small announced the appointments of Kathleen Black, Ed.D., to the position of Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning; Genelle Morris, Ed.D., to the position of Deputy Superintendent of Operations and System Innovation; Melody Martinez-Davis as to the position of Principal of John James Audubon School No. 33; and Adrian Neil, Esq., to the position of Acting General Counsel.
Following are brief summaries detailing each new leader’s profile of education and experience supplied by RCSD:
Kathleen Black, Ed.D.— Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning (effective November 8, 2021)
Most recently, Dr. Black served as RCSD’s Chief Academic Officer since September of 2020.
She earned a Doctorate Degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master’s Degree in Elementary Teaching from American University, a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Trinity University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Urban Studies from the University of Pittsburgh.
Black has dedicated more than 20 years to the career of academic instruction, including a variety of educational roles, such as teacher, principal, director, coach, leadership and Chief Academic Officer.
She began her career as a youth counselor at the Buffalo NY Urban League, where she helped cultivate workforce development and recreational programming. In that role, she discovered her passion for providing quality opportunities for students.
Black founded MH Educational Solutions, a consulting firm that works with organizations to provide leadership development, strategic planning and instructional supports for marginalized students.
Genelle Morris, Ed.D.— Deputy Superintendent of Operations and System Innovation (effective November 8, 2021)
Dr. Morris most recently served as RCSD’s Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning since August of 2020.
She earned her Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University at Buffalo, where she received the “Thinking Outside the Box” award for her thesis, which studied the implementation of the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) in New York State. Additionally, Morris has a Master’s Degree and Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Leadership and Policy, as well as a Master’s Degree in Science Education from the University at Buffalo. Dr. Morris has served on various local, regional, state, and national educational committees and boards.
Morris has spent nearly 30 years dedicating her life to urban education.
Before joining RCSD, Morris was the Chief Accountability Officer/Chief Information Officer for the Buffalo Public Schools (BPS), where she was responsible for accountability, assessment, research, and evaluation of BPS system-wide goals and targets.
Melody Martinez-Davis— Principal of John James Audubon School No. 33 (effective November 8, 2021)
Martinez-Davis has been serving as RCSD’s Deputy Superintendent of Support Services since July of 2020.
Martinez-Davis earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education with a minor in Spanish Language and Civilization at the SUNY College at Brockport and a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. She is currently completing her Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy at the University at Buffalo, with emphasis on social-emotional learning.
Martinez-Davis has served as Deputy Superintendent, Principal, Assistant Principal, and Spanish teacher at all levels across varied demographics during her 27-year professional career in education.
She was recognized as the recipient of the 2016 Genesee Valley Chapter NYS ASCD Supervision Award; led Oliver Middle School to be recognized as a National School-to-Watch; and co-led the Monroe Middle School Learning Walks, and has other state-wide accomplishments.
Adrian Neil, Esq.— Acting General Counsel (November 13, 2021)
Neil has served as RCSD’s Associate Counsel since 2016. In new role as Acting General Counsel, he will replace Steve Carling.
Neil holds a Juris Doctorate Degree from Brooklyn Law School, a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and English from the University of Rochester, and is admitted to practice law in the State of New York and Western District Court of the United States.
He currently serves on the Monroe County Bar Association (MCBA) Board of Trustees and is a past co-chair of its Diversity Committee. Also, Neil has led the Diversity Clerkship Program for the MCBA. Additionally, he is a member of the Rochester Black Bar Association (RBBA), and is a past member of its Executive Committee. Neil is an appointed member of the New York State Permanent Commission on Access to Justice.
Neil attended the University of Rochester and studied Political Science and English. He became interested in law and interned at the Public Defender’s Office and the NYS Division of Human Rights. Neil entered private practice at the Law Offices of Brown & Hutchinson after earning a law degree.