Meet Stephanie Pace Marshall, Ph.D.

Educator, Founding President, CEO, and President Emerita,
Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

"Mind shaping is
world shaping"

Born in the Bronx, New York, Stephanie Pace Marshall says she grew up in the world’s most diverse and dynamic cultural and scientific playground. "In a very real sense, New York City was my classroom and learning laboratory," she explains. She and her family loved spending weekends at the Bronx Zoo and all the other amazing places that make the city an exhilarating and stimulating place for a child to explore…the Metropolitan Museum, the Hayden Planetarium, the Joffrey Ballet, the Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Opera, Radio City Music Hall and much more. "It was a rich kaleidoscopic playground of ideas and possibilities, and as a child, I was interested in everything!

"Learning was joyful to me. I grew up immersed in science, mathematics, music and the performing and visual arts. My father was a nuclear mechanical engineer, and before my mother became a teacher of autistic children she was a professional singer. Music and dance are still very important to me."

A curious and very committed student, Dr. Marshall originally intended to pursue medicine and theology she wanted to be a surgeon and a minister, but she says what she actually wanted to become in third grade is exactly who she is now!

"I was a serious student, and when the teacher asked our third grade class what each of us wanted to be when we grew up, I said I wanted to be a lion. All the kids laughed, but my teacher didn’t think it was funny and scheduled a meeting with my mother. What my mother said was one of her greatest gifts to me. She put her arm around my shoulder and said, ‘Stephanie, the only reason the other children don’t want to become a lion is because they don’t have the courage!’ Although, of course, I didn’t want to become a real lion, I realize now that this metaphor is a significant grounding for me. My work now is to use my voice to tell the story of possibilities for all of our children."

That work is to design conditions that will likely ignite and nurture the intellectual and creative potentials of children. Her personal commitment is to "do everything I can to create conditions that liberate the goodness and genius of all children for the world."

According to Dr. Marshall, "Mind shaping is world shaping. Education is the most important work of any culture because the minds that teachers help develop will shape our future and our world. How we think, come to know and make sense of our world is how we choose to live. It is who we become. And how we live is how the world is shaped. This idea is the driving force for everything I do."

Teachers have astonishing influence on developing the hearts, minds and spirits of
children, all of whom will help to create our future.

"When you are teaching a child, you have no idea who you may be influencing. Whenever I talk to a child, I honor and encourage them just as I would if I knew he or she would grow up to become Mother Teresa, Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks or Neil Armstrong."

A teacher with experience at every educational level, from elementary through graduate school, Dr. Marshall is internationally recognized as a pioneer and innovative leader, teacher, speaker and writer on issues of leadership, transformative learning and schooling, gifted and talented education, and mathematics and science education. She is the founding and former President of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA), Aurora, Illinois.

Prior to becoming IMSA’s founding President, Dr. Marshall served as the Superintendent of Schools in Batavia, Illinois. She was named superintendent in 1984 when there was only one other K - 12 female school superintendent in Illinois in more than 900 school districts. She also has worked as a national strategic planner and served as a member of the graduate faculties at National Louis University and Loyola University. She has served as President of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (the world’s largest professional educational association), an advisor to the Education Task Force of the President’s Council of Science Advisors, and as a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Advanced Study in Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools.

Dr. Marshall was selected by the RJR Nabisco Corporation as one of the nation’s most innovative educational leaders and was chosen twice by Executive Educator magazine and the National School Boards Association as one of North America’s 100 Top School Executives.

The Chicago Sun Times selected her as one of the ten most powerful women in education and one of the 100 most powerful women in Chicago; she has received numerous awards and recognitions for her distinctive leadership. In 2005, she was inducted into the Lincoln Academy of Illinois and received the Order of Lincoln, the state’s highest award for achievement that advances humanity. It is among her most prized awards because, she says, "As an educator, my life and my work have always been dedicated to advancing the human condition."

A member of many local, national and international organizations, she also serves as an international consultant, keynote speaker and writer on issues critical to educational transformation. She has written more than 35 articles, and her book, The Power to Transform: Leadership that Brings Learning and Schooling to Life, won the 2007 Educator’s Award from Delta Kappa Gamma.

Dr. Marshall received a B.A. from Queens College in New York City, an M.A. degree in Curriculum Philosophy from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Industrial Relations from Loyola University of Chicago. She holds four Honorary Doctorates from Illinois Wesleyan University, Aurora University, North Central College and Dominican University.