Debra McLaren, Ed.D.
National Center for urban school transformation
Debra McLaren began her career in education as a music teacher. Having won 1st place twice in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in both Tulsa, Oklahoma and San Diego, California she developed a passion for promoting arts education in the schools. She has created education outreach programs for several arts organizations including developing the initial outreach program for the San Diego Mainly Mozart Festival. She also had an integral role in the development of the award winning Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) program in the Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD).
Dr. McLaren continued her education journey serving as an elementary school principal beginning in 2004 and in 2007 had the honor of opening the 44th school in CVESD, Wolf Canyon Elementary School. Since its opening Wolf Canyon has and continues to exceed all state and local standards for all student populations and in 2016, Wolf Canyon won both the California Gold Ribbon Award and the Exemplary Arts in Education Awards.
Dr. McLaren has served as an educator for more than 32 years with 18 of those years as a successful school administrator. She served as a Principal Lead for CVESD for over 8 years and most notably was named in 2019 as Principal of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region 18. Dr. McLaren has a proven track record for working with diverse populations having served in schools designated as Title 1, Charter, and Dual Language Immersion. Most recently, she served as the Director of Leadership, Equity, and Access for CVESD providing leadership, professional development, and support to district and school staff on policies, procedures, and practices related diversity, equity, and inclusion.