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Chan, Yvonne

Founder and Principal, Vaughn Next Century Learning Center


Dr. Yvonne Chan is the Principal of the Vaughn Next Century Learning Center which serves 3,000 students (PK-12) in Los Angeles. She has pushed the limits of education and social reform including class size reduction, universal preschool, accelerated English learning, special education full inclusion, longer school day and longer school year, school-based clinic, family center/business co-op, interagency services, adult education, university professional development center, teacher peer-review and performance pay system. Student study global issues, take Mandarin Chinese as a critical world language and complete community college credits.

As the founder of the first conversion charter school or a turn-around school in the nation, she turned crack houses to school houses, gang territories to college prep laboratories, provided construction jobs and stimulated economic growth in a high-poverty neighborhood. Student achievement soars and attendance is near perfect. Through her shrewd management skills, the school leverages millions of dollars for programs related to education, youth development, family and community strengthening. Vaughn is now a full-service Pk-14th learning village under Dr. Chan’s most capable leadership.

Vaughn was named the 1995 California Distinguished School and the 1996 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. It was visited by the Mrs. Hillary Clinton, U.S. legislators and dignitaries from all over the world. Dr. Chan has delivered keynote addresses in 41 states on school reform, given testimonials to the legislature in 37 states on charter school policies. Dr. Chan gained international recognition by providing training to school leaders in China, Thailand, Australia, Turkey, Argentina, and Chile. She was invited to many town hall meetings with Presidents and Governors. Dr. Chan was profiled by Time Magazine, Prime Time Life, Good Morning America, National PBS, Education Week and various local and national publications.

Armed with a doctoral degree from UCLA in Education, a MA degree from California State University, Northridge in Special Education, a BA degree from UCLA in French/Spanish, post-doctoral studies in computer science at UCLA, eight teaching credentials and the ability to communicate in four world languages, she is determined to turn risks into opportunities for children and families who live in poverty through her tenacity and dedication, forward-thinking skills, energy and enthusiasm to do the impossible.

In addition to being a school principal, she was an adjunct professor at UCLA and California State University, Northridge for 25 years. Dr. Chan is a Commissioner of the Los Angeles City Commission for Families and communities. She served two terms as a member of the California State Board of Education. She assumes leadership role in policies related to the assessment of English learners and students with disabilities, adoption of instructional materials, teacher quality, early childhood, child nutrition, school construction as well as authorization of statewide charter schools. In addition, she has served on many governmental and nonprofit boards, including the Board of Public/Private Venture in Philadelphia, Longview Family Foundation in Washington, D.C., Teacher Advancement Program Foundation in Los Angeles, California State University Advisory, and Los Angeles Community College Facilities Bond Oversight Committee.

She was awarded the Milken Educator Award in 1991, the McGraw Hills Distinguished Educator in 1997, the Gleitsman Community Activist Award in 2004 and the Irvine Foundation Leadership Award in 2007. Her donation of these cash awards to her school leveraged more than $50 millions in grants and bond funds for the school and community.

She received numerous awards including Woman Making History, Educator of the Year by the National Council of Negro Women, the Asia Chamber of commerce, the Optimist Club, the National Chinese-American Banker Association, San Fernando Valley of the Stars, the Y.W.C.A., USC, UCLA and California State University Alumni Associations, New Horizon Association for the Disabled Persons, and many others.

Dr. Chan’s work is widely replicated across the nation. Her passion for education has spanned nearly 40 years, since her humble beginning as an elementary school teacher in 1968. Arriving in the U.S. alone at age 17 with just $100, Dr. Chan set out to pursue the American Dream – a dream she realized and a dream to which she now teaches countless others to aspire.