Chris Lehmann is the founding principal and CEO of the Science Leadership Academy and the Science Leadership Academy Schools network, a network of three progressive schools inside the School District of Philadelphia, PA. The Science Leadership Academy Schools are an inquiry-driven, project-based, 1:1 laptop schools that are considered to be one of the pioneers of the School 2.0 movement nationally and internationally. The Science Leadership Academy is the Dell Computing Center of Excellence for Technology in Education. The school was recognized by Ladies Home Journal as one of the Ten Most Amazing Schools in the US, was recognized as a “Breaking Ranks” Model School by the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and is recognized as the Dell Computing Center of Excellence in Education. SLA has been written about in many publications including Edutopia Magazine, EdWeek and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
In 2013, Chris co-founded the non-profit Inquiry Schools with Diana Laufenberg to help more schools create more empowering, modern learning experiences for students. In partnership with Inquiry Schools, Chris co-founded Science Leadership Academy @ Beeber campus , the second campus in the SLA model in 2013, and in 2016, Chris co-founded Science Leadership Academy Middle School. Before returning to his native Philadelphia to open SLA, Chris spent nine years as an English Teacher, Technology Coordinator, Girls Basketball Coach and Ultimate Frisbee coach at the Beacon School in New York City.
Chris is the 2014 winner of the McGraw Prize in Education. In 2021, 2022 and 2023, Metro Philadelphia named Chris the Best Principal in Philadelphia. In 2019, the National Association of Secondary School Principals recognized Chris as the Digital Principal of the Year. During 2016 and 2017, Chris served on Scholastic’s National Advisory Council. Chris was recognized by the Philly Geek Awards for being the 2016 Mission Leader of the Year. In June 2013, Chris was named Outstanding Leader of the Year by the International Society of Technology in Education. In November of 2012, Chris was named one of Dell’s #Inspire100 – one of the 100 people changing the world using Social Media. In April of 2012, Chris won the Lindback Award for Excellence in Principal Leadership in the School District of Philadelphia. In September of 2011, Chris was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change for his work in education reform. In June 2010, Chris was named as one of the “30 Most Influential People in EdTech” by Technology & Learning Magazine. In 2009, Chris was a honoree for the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development’s Outstanding Young Educator Award. Chris was named as one of “40 Under 40” by Philadelphia Business Journal in 2009. In 2006, the National School Board Association named Chris one of “20 to Watch” among American administrators. In 2001, Chris was honored by MOUSE as a Champion of Technology and Education for his work on building the portal at the Beacon School.
Chris has written for such education publications as Principal Leadership Magazine, Learning and Leading with Technology Magazine, and the School Library Journal. Chris has spoken at conferences all over the world, including TEDxPhilly, TEDxNYED, the National Principals Conference, SXSW, SXSWedu, the Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the Pennsylvania Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the Building Learning Communities conference, the International Society of Technology in Education, the Philadelphia Area Educational Technology Conference, The Florida Educational Technology Conference, the Innovative Learning Conference, The Council of Educational Facilities Planners Regional Conference, the K12-Online Conference, the International Conference on Technology and Education and at the Central and Eastern European Schools Association Conference, and he has worked with many schools and districts all over the world as a consultant.
Chris currently serves on the board of the Philadelphia Learning Collaborative, the Philadelphia Area Disc Alliance and on the Advisory board of the Drexel School of Education.
Chris received his B.A. in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania and his M.A. in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Chris is co-author of Building School 2.0: How to Create the Schools We Need, co-editor of What School Leaders Need to Know about Digital Technologies and Social Media, the author of the education blog Practical Theory and is father to Jakob and Theo who both go to SLA schools.