Susan J. Thompson, Executive Director of the Academy of the Pacific Rim in Hyde Park, MA, discusses some of the challenges she faces, specifically the need to balance urgency with quality of instruction. Many of the school’s students are reading below grade level in the fifth grade; programmatically, the school has been increasing its intervention work. Thompson also discusses factors that create success, such as the school’s strong faculty supervision and evaluation program, which is performance-based and merit pay connected. Finally, she discusses one of the school’s unique propositions: students learn Mandarin as a second language and have the opportunity to travel to China as part of an exchange program.


Susan J. Thompson has served as Executive Director of the Academy of the Pacific Rim since April 2009. Bringing more than 25 years experience in educational leadership and management to this position, Ms. Thompson has previously taught and served in administrative capacities in Utah, California, Illinois, and Georgia. A native of western Pennsylvania, Ms. Thompson earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in U.S. History. She earned her master’s degree in Human Development, with a concentration in Administration and Women’s Studies, from Pacific Oaks College, Pasadena, CA. In addition to her C.A.S. at Harvard, she did graduate work in European and U.S. History at Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY.

Quote: “Student achievement is directly correlated with holding high expectations for all students and helping them meet those expectations.”