Headshot of Tyree Pollard

Meet Tyree Pollard (MBA ’16), director of attendance at Columbus City Schools, and a member of the first BRIGHT New Leaders for Ohio Schools cohort.

In a few sentences, describe your current position, roles and responsibilities.

As director of attendance, which is under Columbus City Schools’ Department of Equity, I lead the district’s efforts to implement a system-wide attendance improvement strategy. Creating a multi-tiered system of support framework anchors early intervention and prevention, promotes daily attendance and reinforces the importance of identifying and mitigating barriers to daily attendance.

Tyree Pollard wearing a plastic rain poncho has his face covered in pie at a school function.
Tyree Pollard (MBA '16) participates in a pie-in-the-face school activity.

What are one or two of your most significant accomplishments in education?

Taking my former school, Columbus Africentric Early College P-5, from Academic Emergency (Priority) to Independent Status. I also helped improve our overall state report card grade from an F to C, and our progress from an F to an A.

I also wrote and was awarded a $950,000 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant that offered after-school academic and cultural enrichment for 75 students daily. 

Why did you choose to apply to become a BRIGHT Fellow?

I strongly believe in the saying that “the place of your greatest problem is the place of your greatest purpose.” School was a huge struggle academically and behaviorally for me. But I was always surrounded by educators who cared and refused to let me fail. I want to provide that same experience to the next generation of scholars.  I am not trying to reproduce me, but I am trying to reproduce the educational opportunity I received.

Beyond bringing you into the public education space, how has BRIGHT prepared you or made a difference in your career?

BRIGHT prepared me by providing access to the very best in education training through programs like The New Teacher Project (TNTP) and those offered by Battelle for Kids, as well as the best in leadership from Fisher and the Harvard Kennedy School.        

What piece of advice, strategy or tactic, learned as part of the BRIGHT program, do you still utilize today?

Definitely the BRIGHT network. This program afforded me the opportunity to have over 60 peers to level-set with and to share best practices.

How did your BRIGHT experience prepare/equip you to manage the disruption of the past two years within public education?

BRIGHT equipped me with over 60 thought partners at various levels in education that really supported each other during the pandemic.  

What advice would you give to someone considering the BRIGHT program?

Don’t consider this program if you are not passionate about kids and changing their life trajectory. 

What do you think differentiates a BRIGHT Fellow from other leaders in education?

Having other experiences outside of education that provide a different perspective — and being a little naïve doesn’t hurt either.

Finish this sentence: “Graduating from the BRIGHT program meant….”

I had the privilege of serving young people. 

What’s the most challenging thing about leading in this space?

The most challenging thing about leading is getting members to follow you willingly across unknown terrain and activating them to move forward together.

What are some of the most rewarding things about leading in this space?

Seeing people — students, educators and families — grow and accomplish goals they thought were impossible. We really embrace the theme of “Same Goal, Different Role.”