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    Don Shalvey, Co-Founder of Aspire Public Schools, to Speak at Pacific’s 2010 Commencement Ceremony

    Apr 29, 2010

    Don Shalvey, deputy director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and co-founder and board co-chair of Aspire Public Schools, was selected as commencement speaker for the 2010 ceremony, scheduled to start at 9 a.m. May 15 in the Alex. G. Spanos Center.

    "Dr. Shalvey is one of the most respected leaders in public education today and has changed the way that many think about public schools," said Phil Gilbertson, provost at University of the Pacific. "He has joined the power of entrepreneurship to what works best for our children to learn."

    Shalvey, along with Netflix founder Reed Hastings, is co-founder of the Aspire Public Schools system and currently serves as a board co-chair. The Aspire system was formed in 1998 as the first nonprofit organization to develop multiple charter schools in underserved California communities. Today, Aspire has grown to 14 schools in East Palo Alto, Los Angeles, Modesto, Oakland, Sacramento, and Stockton. Aspire creates high quality public schools in urban neighborhoods that mirror the best private schools. Key features of Aspire schools include their small size, longer school days, and commitment to rigorous assessment and parental involvement.

    The results have been impressive. Teachers and parents give Aspire schools high marks and the first two graduating high school classes had a 100 percent acceptance rate to colleges.

    Last year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation appointed Shalvey to the foundation's education team and appointed him to see how the Aspire system can be applied to other school districts across the country. Of concern to the Foundation's members was a 2008 report from Education Week that said nearly a third of American students don't graduate from high school on time. Other studies have found that half of those who do graduate are not ready for college, with only one-third of ninth graders graduating college-ready.

    "Don Shalvey, working with the many individuals he has inspired and developed, shows us that teachers and administrators who are committed to the success of all learners can and will transform lives," said Lynn Beck, dean of the Benerd School of Education. "I view Don as a model, a mentor, and a friend and am delighted that he will be speaking at our 2010 Commencement."

    Shalvey has more than 35 years of experience in public education. He has worked as a superintendent, assistant superintendent, principal, classroom teacher, and counselor in all levels-primary, elementary, middle, and high schools, college and adult education. Prior to his current position at Aspire, he was Superintendent of the San Carlos School District in Northern California, a district of approximately 2,600 students and six elementary schools. Shalvey also worked in the Merced School District, a rural district of approximately 11,000 students, and in the Lodi Unified School District, a district of approximately 28,000 students that includes a portion of Stockton.

    While at the San Carlos School District, he helped sponsor the first charter school in California and began participation in the Bay Area School Reform Collaborative, the Hewlett-Annenberg Project and a federal Technology Challenge Grant. Shalvey also co-founded Californians for Public School Excellence, the organization that sponsored the California Charter School Initiative that raised the cap on the number of charter schools. He has been a member of State Superintendent Delaine Eastin's Charter School Committee as well as an advisor to the California Network of Educational Charters.

    Shalvey earned a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership/Administration from the University of Southern California, a Masters of Education in Counseling and Guidance from Gonzaga University and a bachelor's from LaSalle College. As part of Pacific's ceremony, he will receive an honorary doctorate.