Alumni Spotlight

Mike Taack

Mr. Michael “Mike” Taack is the Assistant Principal and School Sustainability Manager for Girls Empowerment Middle School (GEMS), Las Vegas’ first all-girls public charter school. A recent graduate of the Teacher Leadership Academy (Cohort 6), he immediately jumped into his new administrative role at GEMS in August 2022.

As the first member of his family to graduate college, Mike has experienced first-hand the impact that access to a high quality education can have on students and families. He is passionate about ensuring that students from all backgrounds have opportunities for success. “One of the best things about working at GEMS,” Mike says, “is that we provide a unique option for families and students that helps them feel supported and empowers our young women to be academically and socially successful.”

One of Mike’s interests is improving the pipeline of high-quality future educators and ensuring that teacher preparation pathways meet the needs of new teachers, schools, and the community at large. Prior to taking on his current role, Mike was the On-Site Professional Development School Coordinator at Fremont Middle School. In that position, he coordinated the experiences of practicum students and student teachers throughout the school and ensured that both interns and mentor teachers received the support they needed to be successful. Mike also mentored numerous pre-service teachers of his own, co-created teaching experiences with UNLV faculty for Alternative Routes to Licensure (ARL) students in UNLV’s first Rebel Academy summer field experience, and has presented nationally on the topic of teacher preparation at the National Association of Professional Development Schools’ annual conferences. Mike has received many recognitions for his efforts, including being a four-time finalist for the Rogers Foundation’s Heart of Education Award and being selected for Opportunity 180’s inaugural Operation Design to Edrupt cohort for educational leaders designing new educational programs and charter school designs.

Mike is not only a passionate educator but also an advocate for systemic improvements to education in southern Nevada. He has been a panelist both at UNLV’s Summit on Nevada Education and on Vegas PBS’ Nevada Week, and he has served as an education team co-leader on educational advocacy with the local nonprofit Nevadans for the Common Good. Together with that organization and colleagues from Fremont, he successfully helped the school’s community to negotiate a collaborative plan for the school, alongside CCSD leadership, which ultimately resulted in the creation of Fremont’s new magnet program, the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Mike’s efforts towards systemic change continue in his current work and his plans for the future. In addition to his work expanding GEMS’ reach in the community, he is planning to expand southern Nevada’s public charter school offerings with his proposed future middle school charter, WYLEES, the Western Youth Leadership, Engagement, and Empowerment School. Though the project will take a couple of years to be realized (including applying for authorization through the state’s charter authority), Mike believes that his school will be a game-changer for the downtown Las Vegas community. “We plan a revolutionarily collaborative approach that involves families in designing learning experiences with our students,” Mike says. WYLEES will join with students and families to identify needs in the community and then design real-world projects that use service learning and civic engagement to empower students to take action, be leaders, and create change. “By using our approach, families will be directly involved in their students’ education. Students will see the connection between what they are learning and how it can be applied, and we will simultaneously start making the world a better place.”

Mike is a proud father of three and longtime resident of the Las Vegas valley. When not trying to impact education, he loves to travel, write, go to concerts, and spend time outdoors with his family.

You can find Mr. Michael “Mike” Taack on LinkedIn.