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avatar for Santo Nicotera

Santo Nicotera

CITY Center for Collaborative Learning
PD Director, Retired
Tucson, Arizona, USA
Santo Nicotera is the other co-founder of the Paulo Freire Freedom Schools in Tucson, AZ. He stepped down as principal of PFFS-University in July 2016 to become director of professional development for CITY Center for Collaborative Learning. He taught middle and high school math and social studies in Colorado from 1986-1997, receiving a Denver Teacher of the Year award in 1997. From 1997-2002, he helped lead a major reform initiative at Manual High School in Denver, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to restructure a large comprehensive school into 4 small learning communities. Teacher empowerment using the ‘critical friendship’ model of professional learning communities was an integral component of that effort. To support the Denver initiative, Santo received PLC coaches training in the ‘critical friendship’ model from the Annenberg Institute for School Reform in 1997. He retired from Denver Public Schools in 2002 and moved to Tucson to create with JoAnn the Paulo Freire schools. He worked for 7 years (2003-2010 - two weeks per month) with the Ohio High School Transformation Initiative, coaching primarily principals around distributive leadership and using the SRI Critical Friendship model. As a School Reform Initiative (SRI) national facilitator, Santo has designed and led PLC coaches trainings in Albuquerque (NM), Denver (CO), Las Vegas (NE), Lima (OH), Navajo Nation (AZ), Chattanooga (TN), San Francisco (CA), Salt Lake City (UT), Tucson (AZ), and Tulsa (OK) using this model.