Dr. Jesús Jara has a lifelong passion for creating better opportunities for all children through education. That passion is rooted in his own childhood, having moved from Venezuela to Miami. As an English language learner, Jara faced challenges as he acclimated to the United States; however, his teachers were compassionate, set high expectations for all students, and were a critical factor in his success.
Jara is currently superintendent of the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nev., the nation’s fifth-largest district. Previously, he was deputy superintendent for Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Fla. In that role, he served as the superintendent’s designee and oversaw five area superintendents and the division of Teaching and Learning, including all programs from early childhood to adult education. During his time with the district, the achievement gap narrowed faster than 90 percent of major cities across the United States.
Prior to Orange County, he was superintendent and chief operations officer in Monroe County Public Schools in Florida, where he helped increased participation and achievement in advanced coursework. He was also executive director of the College Board’s Florida Partnership, responsible for increasing equitable access to services for minority and underrepresented students across the state. In that role, he was a liaison between the College Board and the governor’s office, the Florida Department of Education, districts, and schools.
Jara began his career in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, where he was a bilingual biology teacher and coach, before moving to Springfield, Mass., where he served as assistant principal and principal. As principal of the High School of Science and Technology, he expanded Advanced Placement course offerings and helped increase the graduation rate. In 2005, the high school was a semifinalist for a College Board Inspiration Award.
Jara’s experience also includes work as a successful executive in the private sector. A member of the third cohort of the Future Chiefs leadership development program, he received his doctorate in education, educational policy, leadership, and administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.