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Takiema Bunche Smith Named Director of Early Education Leadership Institute at SCO/FirstStepNYC

October 7, 2014 / SCO News

Experienced Educator to Lead City’s Institute created to expand and develop a pipeline of Early Childhood Education Leaders in NYC

TBS HeadshotTakiema Bunche Smith, a highly experienced early childhood educator, has been named the inaugural Director of the Early Education Leadership Institute at SCO/FirstStepNYC, an initiative created to develop and encourage opportunities for early education leaders across New York City. The Institute is based at SCO/FirstStepNYC, a year-old state-of-the-art early education program uniquely co-located at a K-8 public school, PS/IS 41 in Brownsville, Brooklyn. SCO/FirstStepNYC serves children six weeks to five years, and is a public-private partnership with SCO Family of Services, the NYC Department of Education, the NYC Administration for Children’s Services and other public and private funders.

Ms. Bunche Smith most recently served as Vice President, Education and Outreach at the Brooklyn Kindergarten Society, where she oversaw teacher professional development, educational programming and outreach at five Brooklyn preschools. She will assume her new position at the Leadership Institute in late October, 2014. She was awarded a “Bammy Award” in September, 2014 by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences, one of 25 educators and education professionals to receive the award across the U.S.

“As the city and nation has begun to focus on the critical importance of early childhood education, I am delighted to join the SCO/FSNYC Leadership Institute, which will highlight the most effective ways to prepare strong leaders who will guide our youngest New York City residents to kindergarten and future academic success,” said Ms. Bunche Smith.

Renee Skolaski, Chief Program Officer at SCO Family of Services who oversees SCO’s early childhood programs, said: “I know that Takiema Bunche Smith will make leadership development accessible for professionals citywide at all stages and from all backgrounds, and that she will bring her vision and collaborate with the Leadership Institute Advisory Board to further develop the leadership needed in early childhood throughout New York City.”

Laura Ensler, founding director of FirstStepNYC, said Ms. Bunche Smith understands the issues of importance to early childhood teachers and directors. “She has been a passionate advocate for our most at-risk children and families and has a clear vision for the future of early education in NYC. She understands the needs of our field and what quality leadership means for those we serve.”

“We look forward to having Ms. Bunche Smith at the helm of the SCO/FirstStepNYC Leadership Institute, where she will bring her deep experience and knowledge to advancing early childhood leaders throughout New York City,” said Gail Nayowith, Executive Director of SCO Family of Services.

A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Ms. Bunche Smith was awarded Master’s degrees in Urban Education from the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and in Early Childhood & Elementary Education from Bank Street College of Education, and she is currently a student in NYU Wagner’s Executive MPA program for Public Service Leaders. She is involved in advocacy efforts related to early childhood care, education, funding and policy, and has held positions as classroom teacher, teacher educator, content director for Sesame Street Children’s Educational Television Show, and director of curriculum and instruction.


SCO Family of Services helps vulnerable New Yorkers build a strong foundation for the future. We get young children off to a good start, launch youth into adulthood, stabilize and strengthen families and unlock potential for children and adults with special needs. SCO serves 60,000 New Yorkers each year in New York City and on Long Island.

For more information, please contact Communications Director Sharman Stein at stein@sco.org.

If you are an early childhood education professional with questions about the Leadership Institute, please email FirstStepLeader@sco.org

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