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Amrutha Nagarajan


ANet Michigan

7375 Woodward Ave
Suite 1520
Detroit, Michigan 48202
Former teacher Amrutha Nagarajan is the executive director of the new Michigan Network of The Achievement Network, which is charged with guiding and improving instruction in 15 Detroit schools. Having been an ANet coach in Washington, D.C., Nagarajan, a Michigan native, is excited to bring change and opportunity to students in Detroit.
Michigan Nightlight: What does being a leader mean to you?
ANet Michigan Executive Director Amrutha Nagarajan: I believe that leading is listening. I don’t think that leaders hold all the answers, but they are the folks that ask the right questions and push their teams to be bold thinkers. Strong leaders also have a relentless focus on results. They are driven and drive others to make decisions that will get results. In my work with schools through The Achievement Network, a key piece of our partnership is to work alongside our school leaders and teachers to develop their capacity to implement strong practices that drive student achievement. This means I try to listen first and make recommendations based on what I learn.
There are pockets of excellence in schools that need to be shared and leveraged in order to improve outcomes for students.

What is your dream for kids?
As an educator, I want all kids to love and develop a passion for learning. Not just math and reading, which are foundational, but developing an inquisitive nature in each child so they can grow up to be whatever they want. When I think about the students I taught, what motivated me each day in the classroom was that I wanted them to be able to make choices about college and career and not be hindered in that choice by a lack of a quality education.
What is one concrete thing that could be done to improve the environment for social sector work in Michigan?
The Michigan education landscape is complex even for those who have worked here their whole lives. We need more opportunities for meaningful collaboration across schools to share best practices. There are pockets of excellence in schools that need to be shared and leveraged in order to improve outcomes for students. Now is the time to really channel the hard work of our schools and dedication to Michigan’s children.   
How do you know you’re making progress?
As an organization we hold ourselves accountable to the student achievement results at our schools. Across the country we have seen that, on average, ANet partner schools are achieving twice the gains on state summative exams as their non-ANet peers. We are excited to see similar gains from schools in Detroit in the next few years. Our sense of urgency is driven by the needs of our schools and the desire to improve student achievement across the state.
Anecdotally, we know our schools are making progress when we see teachers working together to improve planning and instruction. Every educator in the building has the information they need to make the right instructional choices. Leaders are
Growing up in Michigan and seeing the disparity in educational outcomes for students in the suburbs and Detroit is what inspired me to go into education in the first place.
creating an environment of continuous improvement and collaboration in the school.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the 15 schools in our founding cohort in Michigan. These schools demand excellence for their students and believe that using data and rigorous standards to drive instruction is a key lever for student achievement. I believe in the teams of leaders and teachers at these schools that are working tirelessly to support their students, and I’m truly humbled to be a partner working alongside them in their efforts.
What drew you to this position, especially with the current state of education in Detroit?
Growing up in Michigan and seeing the disparity in educational outcomes for students in the suburbs and Detroit is what inspired me to go into education in the first place. On top of that, through my work as a coach at The Achievement Network in Washington, D.C., I got to see firsthand the impact our partnership can have on student achievement at schools. I was thrilled that we, as an organization, were committed to sharing what we’ve learned and being part of the great things happening in Detroit. I believe that we have a real opportunity to impact the lives of the students in the city, and I’m so grateful to be a part of education community in Detroit.
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Program Profile


  • The Achievement Network
    The Achievement Network works alongside school leadership teams to strengthen their school-wide practice and culture of using learning standards and achievement data to get breakthrough results for students in low-income communities.


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