LANSING, Mich. —
Benjamin Shuldiner won’t become the new Lansing School District superintendent until July, but he’s already hard at work preparing to step into the role.
“It’s hard to imagine a better way to help people than through education and so that’s always been a focus in my life,” said Shuldiner.
A New York native, Shuldiner says that, from an early age, his parents instilled values in him that shaped his career path.
“My mom was an English teacher and my father worked in public housing,” said Shuldiner. “My grandmother ran a nursery school and my grandfather worked in rehabilitation, so I come from a long line of public servants and we care very deeply about helping others.”
He earned his teaching credentials at Harvard University and took a teaching job in Brooklyn. When he arrived, the school was severely underperforming.
Within his first year, Shuldiner and his fellow teachers managed to double the school’s standardized history exam pass rate.
By the second year, they tripled it.
Shuldiner says he channeled that innovative spirit into his next career move — a progressive school dedicated to community service.
In 2003, Shuldiner co-founded the High School for Public Service in Brooklyn where he was also a principal, the youngest public school principal in New York.
Sean Rice, the current principal, says Shuldiner was a natural leader.
“Ben has a tremendous dedication to being a public servant,” said Sean Rice, the current principal of the High School for Public Service. “The higher up you go in education when you become a teacher, an assistant principal, a principal, I believe that you become more and more of a servant to the people that you are working with and I think Ben sees education as the same thing.”
Shuldiner’s former classmate and co-founder of the High School for Public Service, Marisa Boan, said he's always willing to go the extra mile.
“I remember the first year of school he went to visit the house of our students," Boan said. "Principals don’t do that, and he did that.”
Education isn’t the only field Schuldiner has spent time in. He ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2006 in New York's 19th Congressional District and played a pudding pop in a commercial as a child.
Lansing School Board member Farhan Bhatti says Shuldiner’s background will help him transition into being superintendent.
“His wide set of experiences allows him to understand the perspectives of the people he’s going to be interacting with,” said Bhatti.
Shuldiner says he’s up for the challenge.
“Each place I’ve worked in has taught me something new,” Shuldiner said. “What I’m really excited about is coming to Lansing and bringing all of that together and being a part of this wonderful community that has a history and tradition of excellence.”
Shuldinder has a three-year contract with the district with an annual salary of $185,000 a year.
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