After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1989, Catherine DeLaura joined the Peace Corps in Micronesia as a teacher and youth developer. Her experiences there ignited her life-long passion for education. Through a Peace Corps Fellows Scholarship, she pursued a Masters in TESOL at Teacher’s College, Columbia University and taught full-time at Taft High School in the South Bronx. While at Taft, she realized that the public school system was flawed and set out to change it. As a leader of a restructuring process, she founded the first small school within Taft called the Academy of the Arts. After five years at Taft, she moved on to teach and develop her leadership skills at The Heritage School, a new public school in East Harlem.
Her passion for providing educational opportunities to all students and applying new tools to education led her to pursue an MBA from Columbia Business School in 2001. She was then selected to be the Assistant, and after one year, the Principal of School of the Future (SOF), a model school of the Coalition of Essential Schools. Her experience at SOF allowed her to re-conceptualize her vision of education based on small schools that allow students to develop critical thinking skills in personalized learning communities.
Since 2009, Catherine has led the DREAM Project as it has grown and focused on developing a culture of reading and replicating DREAM’s high quality Montessori pre-school program in new areas around the country to serve as a model on how to make an impact on student learning and change communities.