Charlene Russell-Tucker, who was born in Beckford Kraal, Clarendon, in Jamaica, has been appointed to lead Connecticut’s public school system, a system that comprises 528,000 students statewide. She received the appointment to serve as acting commissioner of the school system from the state’s governor, Ned Lamount. She will replace Commissioner Miguel Cardona, who resigned the post after being confirmed by the United States Senate to become President Biden’s Secretary of Education. Russell-Tucker was recommended for the position by the Connecticut State Board of Education.
Russell-Tucker has over 20 years of experience as a professional educator and has been described as a “visionary” leader in education. She said she was “humbled and grateful” to the Governor and the Board of Education for their confidence in her and plans to use her new post to continue her work in serving the state’s students, families, and educators. She is also committed to ensuring a smooth transition once a permanent commissioner is chosen.
Russell-Tucker attended Liberty Primary School in Clarendon and went on to become a student at Clarendon College. After leaving Clarendon College, she migrated to the United States and attended St. Joseph College and Albertus Magnus College, both in Connecticut, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Prior to her appointment as acting commissioner of the Connecticut school system, Russell-Tucker worked as the education department’s deputy commissioner. In this role, she was responsible for the oversight of education support and wellness priorities. Before that, she was chief operating officer and division chief in the Office of Student Supports and Organizational Effectiveness. She has also been associate commissioner of education and bureau chief, responsible for overseeing programs and services.
Charlene Russell-Tucker has been a member of several state and national committees, including the Connecticut General Assembly’s Committee on Children Strategic Action Group on Chronic Absence. She was president of the Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, also served as an expert panelist on committees of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and previously held the position of adjunct faculty member at Albertus Magnus College School of New Dimensions.
In 2015, Russell-Tucker was a member of the first “100 Women of Color” named in Connecticut. She was part of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s Council of Champions in 2018 and was a recipient of MENTOR National’s Public Service State & Local Excellence in Mentoring Award in 2021.
As an educator herself, Russell-Tucker believes in “finding and fulfilling one’s purpose.” She has worked with school districts throughout the state, which is why Governor Lamont said he believes her appointment “will seamlessly aid the state’s education goals during this transition period.”
Photo: Connecticut State Department of Education