Jharrett Bryantt has been selected as the Anchorage School District’s new superintendent, the district announced Thursday.
Bryantt is an executive officer at the office of talent within the Houston Independent School District in Texas, one of the largest school districts in the nation. Bryantt has worked in that school district in various capacities since 2013, serving as assistant superintendent in the office of strategy and innovation before taking his current role. According to his resume, he has a doctorate in education and master’s of education from the University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s in psychology from Yale University.
Bryantt, 32, will begin work in the Anchorage School District’s top job on July 1 after the retirement of the current superintendent, Deena Bishop, who announced her departure in November.
School board president Margo Bellamy, in a letter to families Thursday, cited Bryantt’s “transforming vision, and commitment to public education for all children, his strong leadership experience with a large school district.”
“He articulates specific and innovative plans to improve proficiency in reading and math,” Bellamy wrote in the letter to families. “He is laser focused on students and their academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs along with a sincere desire to ensure adequate resources are directed to the classroom to support educators and support staff.”
During a Thursday press conference, Bryantt said he was excited to take on the role, with plans to establish roots in the city and “be here for a very long time.” He said he loves the Anchorage community and sees a lot of potential in the schools.
“I really was blown away by the character and distinct sense of values in this community,” he said. “It’s something special. It’s something I’ve never seen anywhere else.”
Bryantt will arrive in Anchorage in advance of his official start date to work with Bishop, the letter said. His contract is for three years and his salary will be $250,000, the same as Bishop’s.
Bryantt was among three finalists announced by the board in late March. The other two were former Robert Service High School principal and current Sitka School District superintendent Frank Hauser, and Mathew Neal, a superintendent of Colorado’s Woodland Park School District.
Asked to explain the school board’s decision to pick a Lower 48 candidate, Bellamy said during the press conference they were looking for candidates from everywhere, and where they were from was neither a qualifier or disqualifier.
“We were looking for qualified applicants, wherever in the universe they were,” Bellamy said.
Bryantt said he’s aligned with the district on its goals to increase achievement, and wants to talk with staff, parents and community members about developing specific strategies.
Bryantt spoke to the fact that he will be moving from one diverse school district to another. According to Anchorage School District figures, 110 languages are spoken at home by 20% of the student population, including Spanish, Hmong, Samoan, Filipino and Korean.
“I see a lot of potential in our schools,” Bryantt said. “I think that the sky is the limit. We have so many different cultures represented in the city of Anchorage and that’s what I love about Houston. And I think that within Anchorage that same diversity and that same kind of independent spirit is something that really speaks to my heart.”
In 2019, Forbes put Bryantt on its 30 under 30 education list “as the youngest executive in the nation’s seventh-largest public school system” and again recognized him in 2021 in its 50 Culture Champions list.
“If there’s one thing that I want parents to know about me is that I’m a champion for those who often feel unheard,” Bryantt said during the press conference. “I want to make sure that all students are elevated. But I also know that you know, not every parent goes to the board meeting or feels comfortable writing an email, and I want to be the champion for those parents too.”