Areas of Expertise (12)
School Systems for Underserved Communities
Urban Education Success
Educational Leadership Skills
Shaun Nelms is vice president for community partnerships at the University of Rochester, and most recently the superintendent of East Upper and Lower Schools, formerly East High School in Rochester, N.Y., a position created through a unique partnership between the New York State Education Department, Rochester City School District, and University of Rochester. As the Educational Partnership Organization (EPO) superintendent for East, Nelms was charged with creating a school reform model that can be replicated in urban settings throughout the United States.
In 2018, he was named the first William and Sheila Konar Director for the Center for Urban Education Success (CUES) at the Warner School of Education. In this role, he leads the center’s efforts to support the success of K-12 urban schools both locally and nationally through a combination of research, relationship building, and a commitment to pursue and share best practices.
University of Rochester: EdD, K-12 School Leadership
University of Rochester: MS, Educational Administration
State University of New York - College at Fredonia: BS, Education
- Center for Urban Education Success
Selected Media Appearances (13)
There’s a Difference Between Equity and Equality. Schools Need to Understand That (Opinion)
Education Week print
Today’s contributors were also guests on my 10-minute BAM! Radio Show. ‘A Distributed-Leadership Approach’ Shaun Nelms, Ed.D., is the vice president of community partnerships and the William and Sheila Konar director for the Center for Urban Education Success at the University of Rochester: Introduction: In 2014-15, I embarked on a remarkable journey as the Educational Partnership Organization (EPO) superintendent at the East Upper and Lower schools (East) in collaboration with the University of Rochester. The task at hand was to uplift schools in distress and demonstrate that with the right resources, structure, people, and unwavering commitment to change, even the most challenged systems can flourish.
Why a growing number of colleges and universities are becoming test optional
WXXI Connections radio
Columbia is one of a growing number of colleges and universities that have become test optional, citing equity issues. We’ve reached out to colleges and universities in the region to inquire about their policies. This hour, we discuss the issue and current trends in the college application process with our guests: Shaun Nelms, Ed.D., superintendent of East High School, and professor at the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester Robert J. Alexander, Ed.D., dean of admissions, financial aid, and enrollment management at the University of Rochester.
Amid nursing shortage, East High School, UR introduce students to careers in health care
News 8 WROC tv
By 2030, there could be a shortage of up to 39,000 registered nurses in New York, according to a 2020 report by the State Department of Health. That trend is only growing post-pandemic with retirements and vaccine mandates. In the hopes of helping to fill in the ranks, the University of Rochester School of Nursing has been hosting East High School students hoping to jump-start interest in health care
How a university and a school district made change together
When New York’s Rochester City School District (RCSD) first approached the University of Rochester (UR) to partner and “turn around” East High in 2014, leaders at the university reluctantly declined. They knew that the complexity and intransigency of schools can make it difficult to do anything more than tinker around the edges (Tyack & Cuban, 1995), and it was not clear that East’s community was interested in working with UR to make the transformative change that was needed, given the dysfunction at East at the time. Still, faculty at UR’s Warner School of Education and Human Development knew this was exactly the opportunity they claimed to believe in, so after some thoughtful conversation, leaders at both the university and the Warner School reconsidered, and the partnership was formed.
East High Superintendent Shaun Nelms honored with FBI award
News 8 WROC tv
A very special award was granted to East High School Superintendent, Doctor Shaun Nelms, from the FBI Monday. Special Agent Stephen Belongia, in charge of the FBI Buffalo Field Office, presented the 2021 Directors Community Leadership Award to Nelms for his work as superintendent. The award honors individuals and organizations for their efforts in combatting crime, terrorism, drugs, and violence in America.
6 Tips for Education Leaders Working Toward Equitable Schools
The Journal print
As education leaders, you are tasked with creating equitable conditions for your K–12 communities. But where do you start, and what does success look like? My time as superintendent of East Upper and Lower Schools in Rochester, N.Y., have provided some valuable insights on how educators and administrators can make this work in their own communities. Following are six insights to help your district create schools that are truly equitable.
East High EPO Supt. Nelms Influencing Educational Reform
Spectrum News tv
As he takes his latest Zoom meeting on curriculum building to bring the Black experience to classrooms beyond those in urban districts, Shaun Nelms sees waiting, at the end of the island in his kitchen, his DJ mixer. It’s gear Nelms turns to balance the grind of being an educational crusader for equity in education.
How COVID-19 Will Make Fixing America’s Worst-Performing Schools Even Harder
Six years ago, barely a third of the students at East High School, in Rochester, N.Y., graduated on time. Students were being suspended at a rate of more than 2,000 each year. More than half were chronically absent, and more than three-quarters couldn’t meet the state’s academic benchmarks. In 2015, at a time when East High—one of the city’s oldest and biggest—had been deemed New York state’s worst-performing school, the district’s board let the University of Rochester take the reins.
Examining the impact of regents exams on increased graduation rates across New York
Spectrum News tv
In 2021, that rate increased to 79%. Dr. Shaun Nelms, director for the Center for Urban Education Success at the University of Rochester’s Warner School, believes the increased graduation rates during the pandemic are due to students performing based on the criteria that were given, being taught holistically.
Across Monroe County, students will soon have anti-racist lessons
CITY Newspaper print
ast May, after George Floyd was killed in police custody and nationwide protests for social justice began, East High School Superintendent Shaun Nelms challenged his colleagues across Monroe County to teach students about Rochester's history of segregation and disparity.
RCSD, UR renew East High School partnership for five years
Democrat & Chronicle print
By nearly every academic and social measure, the UR collaboration has done what it's supposed to do: improve outcomes for students at one of RCSD's flagship institutions
How Partnering With a Local University Saved This School From Closure
In 2015, East Upper and Lower Schools—formerly East High School—in Rochester, New York entered into a unique partnership between the New York State Education Department, Rochester City School District and the University of Rochester. This Educational Partnership Organization aims to curtail a trend of academic underperformance and high rates of truancy, absenteeism and dropout, which had plagued East High for a number of years. In 2015, East Upper and Lower Schools—formerly East High School—in Rochester, New York entered into a unique partnership between the New York State Education Department, Rochester City School District and the University of Rochester. This Educational Partnership Organization aims to curtail a trend of academic underperformance and high rates of truancy, absenteeism and dropout, which had plagued East High for a number of years. Leading the charge in this effort is Dr. Shaun Nelms, superintendent of East Upper and Lower Schools and director of the Center for Urban Education Success, which supports K-12 urban schools on a local and national level and aims to replicate East’s model nationwide.
Connections: Discussing the University of Rochester EPO's progress report for East High School
WXXI Connections radio
When the University of Rochester signed on to serve as the Educational Partnership Organization (EPO) for struggling East High School, UR representatives acknowledged they did not enter the partnership lightly. In 2015, New York State labeled East an "out of time" school. It would have closed, if not for the EPO. This hour, we sit down with representatives from the partnership to discuss the EPO’s three-year progress report. They share the challenges East has faced, the successes they’ve seen, and what they hope for the next phase of the collaboration.