Head of School and Founder –
Jessica Nauiokas is currently serving in her twelfth year as Head of School of Mott Haven Academy Charter School, which she co-founded in 2007. Haven Academy is the country’s first public school dedicated to serving children in the child welfare system. In 2015, Nauiokas was selected by the US Department of Education to serve as a Principal Ambassador Fellow, giving counsel and opinion to the US Secretary of Education. Prior to her appointment to Principal, she was the Director of School Development at the NYC Center for Charter School Excellence. Her school leadership work began in 2003, when Nauiokas was a New Leaders for New Schools Fellowship Recipient. Nauiokas was also an Adjunct Professor for NYC Teaching Fellows, where she taught graduate level courses preparing new teachers for entry into the classroom. She began her career in education as a Teach for America corps member in Washington DC where she was a first grade teacher at Malcolm X Elementary School and then a Reading Specialist.
Nauiokas has nearly two decades of urban teaching and leadership experience and a strong background in literacy and cognitive development. She has dedicated her career to closing the achievement gap for our nation’s most vulnerable children. Haven Academy has become a model for schools across the country seeking stronger programming for child welfare involved youth, and it has demonstrated that schools need to understand the effects of trauma on learning processes.
Nauiokas received a 2017 Black Board Award for Outstanding School Leadership. In 2016 Nauiokas was featured in Richard Whitmire’s book ‘The Founders’ for her innovative work on child welfare education reform. In June 2013, Ms. Nauiokas was honored as NY1’s, New Yorker of the Week and was the feature of a news story that aired throughout the week. New York Family Magazine selected Nauiokas as one of its “Heroes” in the November 2011 issue and described Nauiokas as “A Principal for the Neediest”. As a teacher, Nauiokas was a Kennedy Center Grant Recipient in 1998 and 1999. In 1998, she received the Most Dedicated Teacher Award at Malcolm X Elementary.
Nauiokas has a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Human Development and Psychology in addition to a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of New Hampshire. Additionally, she completed a master’s in School Administration and holds a School District Administrator’s license in New York.