November 4, 2011 Ana Ponce, founder of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy and a member of CCSA's board of directors, was one of just seven educators recently featured in Forbes magazine on a list of "Most Powerful Educators." Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America, curated the list of individuals who aren't often in the national spotlight, but who "demonstrate the leadership we need to ensure all children gain the skills necessary to get to and through college."
Ana Ponce is the Chief Executive Officer of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (CNCA), a network of five charter schools serving over 2,800 students within the greater MacArthur Park/Mid-Wilshire neighborhood near downtown Los Angeles. Under her supervision, the CNCA schools have won the Title 1 Academic Achievement Award, the California Association of Bilingual Education Seal of Excellence, and the California Distinguished Schools award.
"I grew up in the neighborhood, and know first-hand the challenges our students face every day such as poverty, language barriers, and lack of access to basic resources," said Ponce. "I also know first-hand the potential that every one of our students has and that is what we focus on to ensure that they are all on their way to be college ready and college bound regardless of where they live or where they were born."
Ninety-six percent of Camino Nuevo's students qualify for free or reduced lunch and nearly half are English-language learners. Camino Nuevo's over 400 graduates are currently attending colleges including UCLA, UC Berkeley, USC, Dickinson College, Brown University, and many CSU schools. Over 90% of CNCA graduates pursue higher education upon graduation with over 80% of students admitted into four-year colleges.
Based on the schools' strong performance, in 2009, the Los Angeles Unified School District selected Camino Nuevo to operate a new school under the Public School Choice reform initiative. In Jose Castellanos Elementary's first year, the school's test scores exceeded the state's goal of 800 API. Camino Nuevo was also selected to operate Sandra Cisneros Elementary, which opened in Echo Park this fall.
Ana Ponce started her career in education with Teach for America, spending three years in the classroom before becoming one of the founding teachers and administrators at The Accelerated School in South Los Angeles. Under her instructional leadership, The Accelerated School was named elementary school of the year by Time Magazine in 2001.
Ms. Ponce has a master's degree in Bilingual-Bicultural Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She earned her administrative Tier 1 credential and second master's degree from UCLA through the Principal's Leadership Institute (PLI) and is pursuing a Doctorate in Education from Loyola Marymount University.
About Camino Nuevo "College Ready, College Bound" - The mission of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy is to educate students in a college preparatory program to be literate, critical thinkers, and independent problem solvers who are agents of social justice with sensitivity toward the world around them. Find out more at www.caminonuevo.org.