San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools-Elect Nancy Magee has been driven by one goal over the course of her career: to break down barriers in education so that every child has the best opportunity to learn and be successful.
She began teaching as an English and AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) teacher in San Diego County, where she learned what tools and systems students need to be prepared for college and career, especially students who are traditionally underserved and underrepresented in post-secondary education.
“It was always surprising to me to discover barriers right inside my own school,” Nancy reflected. “I had to work with my teaching colleagues to identify and address how our own approaches to teaching were creating barriers for some students.”
Midstream in her teaching career, Nancy began teaching at Santana High School, one of the first schools in the nation to offer full inclusion for students with special needs. Not only were the students placed in general education classes, but they also received additional support from their general education peers. “It was a powerful experience for me because my students with disabilities taught me so much about being a better teacher,” shared Nancy. “I was able to go deeper into learning how to create a safe space for all students in the classroom.”
Nancy went on to get a Master’s in Library and Information Science and a credential as a School Library Media teacher so she could guide all students in building their critical thinking, writing, and research skills.
After earning her administrative credential, she directed a federal grant program called Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) and collaborated with law enforcement, fire services, educators, and support providers to coordinate school emergency protocols across agencies - an experience that would prove instrumental to her work at SMCOE.
“I learned more about the challenges faced by law enforcement and other county agencies and they learned more about complexities faced by educators. Ultimately, the experience taught me the power of collaboration and what can result when we work together to support each child.”
In 2010, Nancy joined SMCOE as the School Library Services Coordinator, but six months later she was asked to join the Superintendent’s Office as the Administrator of Board Support and Community Relations. In this role she helped establish the Coalition for Safe Schools and Communities and develop The Big Five emergency response protocols. Four years later, Nancy took on the role of Associate Superintendent of Student Services, where she implemented her instructional knowledge and leadership skills to create safe and supportive spaces for students and staff within SMCOE’s special education, court, and community school programs.
In preparing to serve as County Superintendent, Nancy has spent much time listening and learning. “Our SMCOE staff does so much to serve the needs of our students, schools, and districts,” shared Nancy. “I am excited to continue pursuing excellence and increasing our focus on equity so that every student in San Mateo County can graduate with the skills for success in college, career, and life.”