Dr. Andraé Townsel

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Andraé attended Howard University on a football scholarship. As a 3 time graduate of Howard University, Andraé became the recipient of the Floretta Dukes McKenzie scholarship (awarded to a highly effective educator with high academic achievement) to attend the Urban Superintendents Academy of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA). As a member and graduate of the first National Certification Cohort, Andraé was highly recruited to lead the turnaround efforts in an urban school district.

In the Winter 2016 Issue of Howard Magazine, Andraé was highlighted as a difference maker in education. President Frederick selected him as the representative of the 5th Administrative Priority of engaging in scholarship and research grounded in solving contemporary problems.

In 2016, Andraé was selected by The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to lead one of the most underperforming high schools in the state of Massachusetts. As the new principal of Southbridge High School, Andraé became the 1st black principal in the town’s 150-year history. The work that Andraé has already completed was highlighted by the former U.S. Secretary of Education and current President/CEO of the Education Trust, Dr. John King.

In the 2017 commencement speech at Howard University, Dr. King stated, “In all of this work, Howard places advocacy at the center. That means — to use a phrase from U.S. Congressman and civil rights icon, John Lewis — that you are prepared to make “good trouble.” In the context of education, “good trouble” is about being a champion of children and using your loudest, most persistent voice to advocate for what all students need to achieve their potential.

When I think of this work in action, I think of one of your alums, Dr. Andraé Townsel — a three-time Howard graduate.

Andraé recently was appointed principal of Southbridge High School in Massachusetts and is leading the school’s turnaround as one of the lowest-performing high schools in the state. He is the first African American principal at Southbridge High. He is teaching for social justice because he already has shaken up the status quo.

Andraé forged new partnerships with the local airport and flight school to give Southbridge students the opportunity to earn college credits while they study aviation. Literally and figuratively, Andraé is helping his students to fly.

Through education, lives can be uplifted, transformed, and even saved — which brings me to my next suggestion for you as you build your careers. And that is to see and love the whole child.

So many students experience tremendous adversity: Poverty. Poor health. Violence. Hunger. Addiction. Difficult family circumstances. I want to challenge you to see those things — really see those things. Look at them dead-on and don’t let them lull you into softening your fierce belief in your students’ potential.”