Deborah Smith Named Interim CEO of First Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School


PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--American Paradigm Schools (APS), a nonprofit Charter Management organization based in Philadelphia, announced today that Deborah “Debbie” Smith will assume the role of Chief Executive Officer for First Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School effective immediately to ensure continuity in leadership for First Philadelphia.

With more than 30 years as an educator, Smith began her career with APS in 2016. Prior to her role as Director of Curriculum Instruction (ELA) for grades K through 12 at APS, Smith served as a school administrator for First Philadelphia where she successfully led the campus expansion by building relationships with families, students, and staff through responsive leadership. In addition, Smith was a founding teacher of First Philadelphia, and, as such, has care and concern for the success of the school and is empathetic to the needs of stakeholders. Smith has worked as a teacher in both private and public schools as well as a reading specialist, leading instructional initiatives to promote literacy development and proficiency.

“The core of our mission is to produce academic excellence and expand opportunities for our students. Our teachers and families are doing this despite the obstacles faced in these unforeseen times,” said Ashley Redfearn, executive director of American Paradigm Schools. “We recognize the importance of strong communication and leadership to support families and teachers as they navigate this new reality of educational transition. Given her familiarity with First Philadelphia’s curriculum and the APS model, I have every reason to trust that Debbie Smith will provide the transparency, information, and resources needed for a successful, albeit challenging, school year. We are happy to welcome Debbie back to the First Philadelphia family as we continue to create life-long learners and leaders.”

During her time with APS, Smith has made significant contributions to the professional development of the organization’s teachers and academic program through research-based instructional initiatives and continuous teacher support. She will now be responsible for the fiscal oversight and compliance of First Philadelphia, and will oversee administrative staff to ensure communications regarding programming and virtual instruction are timely and effective for both families and staff.

First Philadelphia faculty was notified of the decision Friday afternoon. Parents and guardians are encouraged to send questions to where an APS administrator will review and respond accordingly.

About American Paradigm Schools:

American Paradigm Schools (APS) is a nonprofit Charter Management organization that supports and serves four charter schools in North and Northeast Philadelphia. These schools are: First Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School; Lindley Academy Charter School; Memphis Street Academy; and Tacony Academy Charter School. For more information, visit

About First Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School:

First Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School is a kindergarten through twelfth grade school located in the Bridesburg neighborhood of Philadelphia that creates life-long learners and leaders of the global community by providing a well-balanced literacy-based education. For more information, visit

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