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Educational leadership professor receives prestigious FBI award

Professor receives prestigious FBI award

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Buffalo Field Office awarded East Upper & Lower Schools Superintendent Shaun Nelms '04W (MS), '13W (EdD), also a professor of educational leadership and the William & Sheila Konar Director of the Center for Urban Education Success at the Warner School of Education, with the FBI’s 2021 Director’s Community Leadership Award (DCLA). Nelms’ dedication and support for his students are just some of the reasons why he is being recognized with this special award.

Nelms was honored with the award at a DCLA ceremony that took place at East on September 19, 2022. Special guests and speakers included FBI Buffalo Field Office Special Agent in Charge Stephen Belongia, City of Rochester Mayor Malik Evans, University of Rochester President Sarah Mangelsdorf, Warner School of Education Dean Sarah Peyre, and East Upper School scholars JoJo Alicea and Taiasia Gibson.

“Dr. Nelms won this award for many reasons, including demonstrating leadership by supporting youth and education through his ‘Progressive Educational Reform Program’ at East,” said Belongia. “Dr. Nelms also uses a more creative approach to solve community problems by highlighting his students’ various talents. His efforts are not only to encourage and support his students in the City of Rochester, but also to “Change the Narrative” of how youth are perceived in the community.”

Throughout the year, dedicated, selfless individuals and organizations make extraordinary contributions to their local cities and towns across the United States. Every year, the FBI honors the best among them with its Director’s Community Leadership Award. Award recipients are from different backgrounds, professional fields, and parts of the country. The issues each face may vary; however, they all have the same motivation: a desire to make lives better. It’s a hefty goal, but these people make valiant efforts.

It is no secret that East High School is special. Besides its unique partnership with the University of Rochester, its leadership stands out. As Superintendent of East Upper and Lower schools, Nelms has made it his mission to uplift students in the academic world—and beyond school doors. For example, last school year, Nelms recorded a series of video interviews with East scholars whose success and talents might not normally be celebrated in the school/academic world. One talented student specialized in hair braiding, while another dropped a musical album in 2021. There was even a boxing champion in the 8th grade and a budding actor, to name a few.

Under Nelms’ leadership, the school increased its graduation rate from 33 percent to 85 percent in just six years and expanded its Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs to include pathways in Culinary Arts, Information Technology, Computer Technology, Biomedical Health Sciences, Business and Computer Essentials, Precision Optics, Teaching and Learning, and Vision Care.

His impact, though, extends well beyond East's data. It is felt through the meaningful relationships and trust he’s developed with East scholars, his mentees and peers, and educators and leaders from neighboring schools in the city and districts across Monroe County. His commitment to serving all students and changing the narrative for Rochester youth can be felt almost everywhere.

Throughout his entire career, Nelms has tirelessly advocated for Rochester youth and scholars and worked to make Rochester’s community, 'Ever Better.'

View photos from the September 19 DCLA ceremony.