Matt J. Navo
Message from the Executive Director
After twenty-eight (28) years in various educational settings and experiences, I have come to realize that organizations who remain steadfast to a significant purpose are more likely to stay passionately connected and committed to the mission, vision, values, and goals of which they were tasked to accomplish.
CCEE is an organization designed to help deliver on California's promise of quality, equitable educational outcomes for every student. To that end, CCEE will continue to work alongside our Statewide System of Support (SSOS) partners by modeling and building knowledge, capacity, and capability across the state to improve educational systems that can achieve equitable outcomes for all students.
The focus on building the knowledge, capacity, and capability of California’s Statewide System of Support and the individuals who comprise it is driven by the idea that education’s primary purpose is to prepare children for an ever-changing future we cannot predict. This generates a need to continuously seek innovative strategies to ensure our students are equipped for what the future demands. I realize that this constant need for change and improvement can stress the educational system and often pits one approach against another. However, when we embrace these stressors and welcome diverse opinions, I believe we can better leverage the strengths of various theoretical methods, find examples of robust educational programs and practices, and create a more effective, efficient, and equitable educational system.
California education is a challenge of complexities, yet we have one of the most innovative educational systems in the country. There are many layers within our state education system, and it can often seem like we are co-laboring, rather than collaborating. My primary focus going forward will be to help design and strengthen the system structures that allow the SSOS to effectively coordinate, leverage, and align academic, behavioral, and social-emotional learning supports and services to address the needs of all students.
Achieving the Statewide System of Support’s vision of improving educational outcomes for every student is possible. If all SSOS partners work together to break the systemic dysfunction that restrains our educational systems, the chasm between our statewide vision and our current reality in California education can be closed. Together, we will be able to empower the lives of the children we serve.
Matt J. Navo serves as the Executive Director for the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE).
Prior to his current role, Navo served as the Director of Systems Transformation with the Special Education Policy and Practice Division (SEPPD) at WestEd. He has experience working with districts and schools to guide systems transformation by developing strategies, structures, policies, and practices, aligned with the Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) at the state, county, and local levels, to close the achievement gap for all students. Navo’s expertise lies in aligning systems, building capacity for continuous improvement, fostering collaborative cultures and collective efficacy among teams, and establishing coherent and efficient models for districts and schools.
Navo’s knowledge and expertise in systems improvement comes from over 25 years of experience as a K-12 educator and leader. Navo served as the Superintendent of Sanger Unified School District from 2013 to 2018. Before assuming the role of Superintendent, he was a special education teacher, secondary instructor, counselor, resource teacher, junior high learning director, high school assistant principal, elementary and alternative education principal, director of special education, and area administrator.
Navo has sat on various state-level committees, boards, and work groups. Navo has been a Governor appointee to the California State Board of Education (SBE) since 2019 and has served on the CCEE Governing Board, first as the Governor appointee from 2015 to 2017, and later as the Governing Board Chair from 2019 to 2021, appointed by the president of the State Board of Education. He also served on the California Practitioners Advisory Group (CPAG) and the Advisory Commission for Special Education, in which he served as committee chair for the California Special Education Task Force (Evidence-Based Practices).
Navo has been a keynote speaker and trainer for systems improvement across the state, and has presented at over twenty different conferences on special education and school reform. He is the author of Collective Efficacy in a PLC at Work (2021) and has contributed to various articles on school reform, systems improvement, Response to Intervention (RTI), Professional Learning Communities (PLC), and Explicit Direct Instruction (EDI), including ONE SYSTEM: Reforming Education to Serve All Students, Report of California’s Statewide Task Force on Special Education (2015).
Navo’s work has been highlighted for various accomplishments. Most recently, his work in Sanger Unified School District was featured in the publication of Process and Protest, California: How are Districts Engaging Stakeholders in LCAP Development, in which the district was recognized for its efforts in making decision-making processes transparent to prioritize the needs, participation, and leadership of communities that have been historically marginalized and underserved. Sanger Unified School District was also recognized as a California District of Distinction by the Fresno County Office of Education in 2018, during the time Navo served as Superintendent.
Navo received his bachelor’s degree in education and his master’s degree in special education from California State University, Fresno. He holds an array of credentials, including a Professional Administrative Credential, Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, a Professional Specialists Credential in Special Education, and a Supplemental Credential with an Autism emphasis.
(November 1, 2020)
Tom Armelino is deeply passionate when it comes to serving the needs of children and honoring the unique and diverse backgrounds, points of view, values, and inclusive sense of community that is necessary to prepare them for success. He understands firsthand how education can be the difference-maker for children, providing opportunity, and in many ways changing the trajectory of young people, society, and the world. Growing up in poverty and the sixth of nine children from a hard-working family where achieving a high school diploma was the exception and not the norm, Tom was the first to change this trajectory and graduate from college.
Passionate to give back to children the love, determination, and importance of working hard and believing in oneself that he learned from some incredible teachers and coaches, he dedicated his life to serving the needs of children and became a teacher. After eight years in the classroom and consistently being asked to serve in various teacher leadership roles as a mentor, coach, teacher-in-charge, model demonstration classroom teacher, and at-risk youth leader, he achieved a higher education degree. Tom went on to serve as a school site administrator, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, district superintendent in multiple school districts, and adjunct professor. In 2006, Tom was elected and served three unopposed four-year terms as the Shasta County Superintendent of Schools.
Currently, in his 3rd year as Executive Director of the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence, Tom works with a small team of accomplished and experienced educators, researchers, and facilitators to focus on systemic changes that ensure all students in California receive the quality education they deserve. Tom is spearheading major strategic shifts for the organization, focusing on providing local education agencies (LEAs) with research and development, professional development, and technical assistance. These initiatives will help to expand California’s System of Support to strengthen local control and continuous improvement through an equity-focused approach.
Tom understands the importance of working collaboratively with all stakeholders within the school system through his experiences as a school, district and county office leader, trained in Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management (TQM) principles. His schools, teachers, and staff were multiple recipients of the California Distinguished School and Title I High Achieving School awards during his tenure. Tom has also served in various state-level leadership positions as a member of California Governor Jerry Brown’s “Kitchen Cabinet,” Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) State President (2015-16), and chair of the state-appointed Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) committee. During his superintendency, Tom served as a Region II chair and state board member for the California County Superintendent Educational Services Association (CCSEA). Before joining CCEE, Tom served as Executive Director of the National Association of School Superintendents.
Recognized for his collaborative style of leadership, Tom has received numerous awards, including the CCSESA Champions Award, Shasta County Excellence in Public Health Award, Shasta County Community Builder Award, Shasta County Asset Champion, California Teachers Association (CTA) Local Chapter Administrator of the Year Award, Robert Woods Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Community Coalition Leader Award, ACSA Shasta Charter Award for Central Office Administrator of the Year, ACSA Shasta Charter Superintendent of the Year Award, ACSA Region 1 Central Office Administrator of the Year Award, and ACSA Region 1 Superintendent of the Year Award.