Staff & Governing Board

The Gardner Pilot Academy is committed to academic excellence for all students. In order to achieve this goal, we have four major components to support student learning.

Erica Herman

Erica Herman


Erica Herman has served as principal of the Gardner since 2005. She had worked at the school for five years prior as Director of Extended Services, leading collaborations with local community agencies, colleges and health centers to design programs that address barriers to student learning. A graduate of the Boston Principal Fellows program, Erica completed her residency at the Quincy Elementary School. She taught special education in Charlotte, NC; an integrated early childhood class in Asheville, NC; and kindergarten at GPA when it was known as the Gardner Extended Services School. Erica also has worked for the YMCA, the Boston College Practicum Office and the Autism Society in Asheville, NC. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Inclusive Education from Syracuse University and a Master’s in Education from Boston College.
Joseph Sara

Joseph Sara

Assistant Principal

Joe Sara Joseph Sara has served as the assistant principal at the Gardner Pilot Academy since September 2010. Prior to this, he served as the clinical coordinator at the Agassiz Elementary L/AB (Learning Adaptive Behavior) Cluster for 7 years. Joe is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and earned his Master’s in Social Work from Simmons College in 1994. He worked at the South End Community Health Center for a total of 8 years, from 1993 (second-year social work internship) to 1996 and then returned in September of 1998 to August of 2004. During this time he provided individual and group-based school counseling as well as outpatient clinic-based therapy. He has worked in both out-patient and in-patient mental health settings. He completed his Bachelor’s degree at Drew University majoring in Psychology and Philosophy.

Lauren Lafferty

Lauren Lafferty

Director of Extended Learning Time

Lauren has served as the Director of Extended Learning Time at the Gardner since 2008. She previously worked for The Village for Families and Children, serving as the Director of After School Programming for two after school programs in Hartford, CT. Throughout her work in the field, Lauren has experience working in schools, community agencies and universities with the goal of improving and sustaining programming to support the whole child. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Connecticut and a Master’s in Education from Harvard University.
  • 100% of Gardner Pilot Academy teachers are “highly qualified” by the state
  • All permanent staff have certification in ESL and are endorsed SEI teachers
  • Over 90% of our staff are certified in special education
  • Teacher leadership and professional growth is a strength of staff at GPA within the school, district, local universities, and at national conferences

Purpose of Governing Board

In June of 2006, Gardner Pilot Academy officially started the transition to full pilot status within the Boston Public Schools. The Gardner Pilot Academy is committed to academic excellence for all students. In order to achieve this goal, we have four major components to support student learning.

  • A strong core instructional program designed to help all students meet high academic standards
  • Enrichment activities designed to expand students’ learning opportunities and to support their cognitive, social, emotional, moral and physical development
  • A full range of health and mental health services designed to safeguard children’s well-being and remove barriers to learning
  • Parent support services designed to support adult literacy, English Language Learning, citizenship, housing, computer technology, nutrition, budgeting skills and career counseling.

The Gardner Pilot Academy Governing Board is charged to carry out the school’s vision and mission and to set school policies as a Boston Pilot School. The Pilot School autonomies as well as state laws guide the Board’s work in terms of budget, staffing, calendar/ schedules, curriculum, and governance. The Governing Board will align their work to the original vision as well as Pilot School autonomies. The scope of the Board’s work includes:

  • Maintaining the school vision;
  • Annually reviewing the school’s progress on indicators of student engagement and achievement;
  • Ensuring a plan is in place to address gaps in student achievement;
  • Developing school policies;
  • Approving the annual school budget
  • Hiring the principal;
  • Evaluating the principal
  • Approving the annual election to work agreement which includes a dispute resolution process
    As well, the Board will develop a long term strategic plan focused on outcomes to guide the overall work of the school as a whole. The Board is charged with securing resources and partnerships into the school to support the vision and strategic planning. Implementation of Governing Board decisions as well as the overall management of the school is the primary role of the Principal and the Gardner Pilot Academy faculty.

As a pilot school, GPA is overseen by a Governing Board comprised of community leaders, administrators, teachers, and parents. The Governing Board sets the school’s vision, establishes policies, hires staff, evaluates and supports the principal, approves the annual budget, and leads fundraising efforts.


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Gardner Pilot Academy
30 Athol Street
Allston, MA 02134