2021-2022 Gray Fellow
Jakub Lau was born in Toruń, Poland, and moved to the United States when he was seven years old. He credits his passion for learning from the teachers, librarians, and other educators that fostered his interests and opened up opportunities for him when he was a new immigrant. Upon graduating from Vanderbilt University, he moved to New York City to become a New York City Teaching Fellow and create the same opportunities for his students that his teachers created for him.
Mr. Lau taught English, Social Studies, and a variety of elective courses to middle and high school students in the South Bronx. Mr. Lau strived to open doors and advocate for his students. He decided to take on the challenge of school leadership to expand his ability to develop teachers, students, and curriculum towards high expectations for high school, college, and career readiness. While teaching, he completed a Master’s Degree in English Education from City University of New York, Lehman College, and a Master’s Degree in Public School Leadership from Columbia University, Teachers College.
Before becoming Principal of The Emerson School, Mr. Lau served as an Assistant Principal at The Mott Hall School. He successfully advocated for Mott Hall’s inclusion in piloting the Common Core Learning Standards. His work with curriculum development was recognized by the GE Foundation, which filmed classes at his school as examples of exemplary Common Core-aligned instruction. As Principal at The Emerson School, Mr. Lau has secured partnerships with Teaching Matters, AVID, and Urban Advantage, among others. Under Mr. Lau’s leadership, State ELA and Math scores have risen steadily, with a 6% increase in ELA and a 7% increase in Math according to the most recent data. Through his participation in the Gray Fellowship for Principal Excellence, Mr. Lau is excited to provide new opportunities for positive sustainable change in the service of Emerson scholars and the broader ecosystem of the New York City Department of Education.