Announcing our New Superintendent: Dr. Ian Roberts

Roberts is a current Pennsylvania superintendent and a former Olympic athlete

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On May 16, the School Board approved the appointment of Dr. Ian Roberts as the next Superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools.

The Des Moines Public School Board voted unanimously to appoint Dr. Ian Roberts as the Des Moines Public Schools’ new superintendent, effective July 1, 2023. Dr. Roberts was chosen through a comprehensive national search based on the leadership profile prepared by the Board after receiving input from staff, parents, students and community members. Dr. Roberts will succeed Interim Superintendent Matt Smith to lead the state’s largest school district comprised of 31,000 students across 64 school buildings.

“When considering candidates, the Board was looking for educational experience, academic excellence and a passion for innovation and inspiration, and we found those qualities and more in Dr. Roberts,” said Des Moines Public Schools Board Chair Teree Caldwell-Johnson. “Dr. Roberts’ focus on creating equitable experiences for students to thrive, paired with his commitment to continuous improvement, creates an exciting opportunity for our students, staff and community.”

Dr. Roberts currently serves as Superintendent of Millcreek Township School District located in northwest Pennsylvania. Dr. Roberts is a lifelong educator who has held the roles of Chief Schools Officer, Superintendent of Secondary Schools, Principal, and Senior Vice President of a charter management organization. He has experience leading schools in a number of large and mid-sized cities, including Washington D.C., Baltimore and St. Louis. He is a proven champion for creating equitable opportunities for all students to thrive and is dedicated to ensuring that focus is a central part of his work in Des Moines. Dr. Roberts has a varied and impressive background that ranges from being named George Washington University’s 2013 Washington D.C. Principal of the Year to competing in the 2000 Olympics as a track & field athlete.

“Leadership is about meeting people where they are and helping them to become even better, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead a strong organization like Des Moines Public Schools using the Board’s goals and guardrails to achieve educational and operational excellence,” said Dr. Ian Roberts. “I want to thank the Board for this opportunity, and I look forward to listening, learning and leading with input from my school community to increase opportunities for all students using empathy, cultural competency and continuous improvement to chart our path.”

Dr. Roberts holds numerous degrees and certificates including a Ed.D. in Urban Educational Leadership and a master’s degree in education from St. John’s University. He also earned the Harvard University Improving Schools: The Art of Leadership certificate. He is married and outside of school he enjoys hunting, reading and spending time with his family and friends.

“I want to thank Interim Superintendent Matt Smith for his strong leadership of Des Moines Public Schools over the last year,” said Caldwell-Johnson. “The Board is grateful for his service and supportive of his decision to return to the associate superintendent position where he will partner with Dr. Roberts to continue to make a tremendous impact.”

Photos of Dr. Roberts Visiting Des Moines Public Schools

Welcome Dr. Ian Roberts

Welcome Video from Dr. Roberts

Des Moines Public Schools

Dr. Ian Roberts was named the 15th Superintendent of the Des Moines Public School district, effective July 1, 2023. Roberts, 52, was chosen following an extensive nationwide search based on a leadership profile developed with input from the school board, teachers, families and others in the school community.

Dr. Roberts is a career educator with over two decades of experience as a classroom teacher, school administrator and executive leader. An accomplished author and speaker, Dr. Roberts has written numerous books and publications about educational topics including leadership, empathy and cultural responsiveness. He is passionate about instructional excellence, diversity, equity, inclusion and innovation in education.

Dr. Roberts came to Des Moines after serving as Superintendent of the Millcreek Township (PA) School District for three years, where his focus was culturally responsive, quality and equity-based instructional leadership that prepared every student for college or a career. Prior to that, he served as the St. Louis Public Schools (MO) High School Network Superintendent, where he coached, supported, and evaluated middle, high school and alternative school principals. His educational career also includes positions in Baltimore, MD, Washington D.C., South Bronx, NY, and across the country. While in the nation’s capital he was named the George Washington University’s 2013 Washington D.C. Principal of the Year.

Dr. Roberts proudly shares that he was born to immigrant parents from Guyana, and spent most of his formative years in Brooklyn, NY. He graduated with a B.S. degree from Coppin State University, earned Masters degrees from St. John’s University and Georgetown University, and received his doctorate in Urban Educational Leadership from Trident University. He also has received several education-related certificates, including the Harvard University Improving Schools: The Art of Leadership certificate.

Prior to becoming a special education teacher, principal, district leader, and leadership trainer, Ian was a world class and Olympic Athlete, competing in track and field at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, and World Championships in Maebashi, Japan and Seville, Spain.

Dr. Roberts is married, and enjoys hunting, reading, and spending time with family and friends.