Stephen D. Harden is entering his eighth year as the principal of Daniel R. Cameron Elementary School (Cameron). When Stephen arrived at Cameron, the school had already endured multiple years of probation and sat at Level 3 status on the district’s School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP). Under his leadership, Cameron steadily improved to Level 1 status in the 2015-16 school year. He is proud of the progress this reflects in academic attainment and growth, attendance and on-track rates.
In the upcoming school year, Stephen is determined to continue closing the achievement gap between underperforming Cameron students and the rest of the student body as well as the nation at-large. He hopes to drive math and reading growth on the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) scale well above the national average. Stephen also wishes to further improve student attendance, particularly for the subset of students whose academic performance is undermined by too many missed days of class.
Stephen is a lifelong Chicagoan and proud product of Chicago Public Schools. After leaving the Midwest to complete a bachelor’s degree in secondary mathematics education at the University of North Florida, where he graduated with the highest honors, Stephen returned to his roots to teach mathematics at Rezin Orr High School. After several years of teaching, he joined the CPS Office of Math and Science to lead the Chicago Math and Science Initiative. In this role, Stephen helped facilitate the two-period algebra initiative. He went on to complete his master’s degree in educational leadership from Concordia University and became the assistant principal of Cameron Elementary shortly afterwards. After four years, he transitioned into his current role as principal.
Stephen feels a strong connection with Chicago’s Westside community, where he has spent his entire career as an educator. He loves having the opportunity to support multiple generations of families as they pursue happiness and success through education. Stephen believes that we all have a responsibility to use our skillset to contribute to the community, and to seek continuous improvement to increase our ability to make a positive difference. He is looking forward to expanding his leadership capacity through the Fellowship experience.