About David Kauffman

After growing up in Wyoming and attending Stanford University, David taught in downtown Houston ISD. He then earned his master’s and doctoral degrees at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education where he studied Learning & Teaching and Administration, Planning & Social Policy. For the next 17 years, he worked in Austin ISD as the principal of Becker Elementary and the founding principal of L.Cpl. Nicholas S. Perez Elementary, and then as the Executive Director for Multilingual Education. He currently provides consulting and professional learning for educators through Kauffman Education, LLC, and teaches in the Texas Principal Leadership Academy at the University of Texas at Austin as a part-time Assistant Professor of Practice. Thanks to the power of teamwork, David was named the Houston ISD North Central District ESL Teacher of the Year, the Austin ISD Principal of the Year, and the Communities in Schools “Best of Texas” Principal of the Year, and received the Public Education Award from the Austin Area Association for Bilingual Education (AAABE). 

David’s Family

David and Sylvia Hernández Kauffman recently celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary. Sylvia grew up in Brownsville, Texas, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Stanford University as a first-generation college graduate. After working in the private sector, she earned her Master’s in Public Policy degree from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government and dedicated her career to public service.

David and Sylvia’s family consists of son Daniel (22), nephew Vincent (22), and daughters Natalia (19) and Isabella (15), all of whom attended Austin ISD schools, including L.Cpl. Nicholas S. Perez Elementary, Kiker Elementary, Gorzycki Middle School, Kealing Middle School, Bowie High School, the Liberal Arts and Sciences Academy (LASA), and Ann Richards Young Women’s Leadership Academy. Their household also includes five dogs and a pet pig.

Professional Highlights

  • Certification in Texas as a general education teacher, ESL teacher, principal, and superintendent
  • Intensive preparation through the highly-selective national School Systems Leaders Fellowship
  • 5 years as Executive Director of Multilingual Education in Austin ISD, effectively improving team performance and climate, improving program design and implementation, and raising graduation rates and other student outcomes
  • 11 years of successful campus experience as a principal, including opening a new elementary school, raising student achievement and improving the TEA accountability rating to “Recognized,” being named district Principal of the Year, implementing special education inclusion and one-way and two-way dual language, and developing a positive and collaborative school culture that has endured beyond his tenure.
  • Close collaboration with all AISD departments, including school leadership, curriculum, special education, finance, human capital, government relations, facilities, food service, transportation, communications and community engagement.
  • Crisis management during the catastrophic Onion Creek Floods, described by a Board Trustee at the time as “solid and stabilizing leadership amidst all of the chaos.”
  • Effective communication with the Board of Trustees, including presentations at public board meetings, participation in the board policy committee meetings, and written responses to trustees’ questions.
  • Strong relationships and two-way communication with internal and external stakeholders, including families, community members, and partner organizations.
  • Efficient management of local, state, and federal budgets.
  • Service on Boards of Directors and other advisory boards, including the REL Southwest Governing Board, the Harvard Principals Center Advisory Board, the Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center (Vice President), and the Commonwealth Children’s Center (President). 
  • Published author in peer-reviewed journals and an award-winning co-authored book.

Demonstrated School Leadership

David’s collaborative and visionary leadership approach brought out the best of the Perez Python staff, students, and families, with a strong focus on what the school termed “life beyond testing.” Click here to see some of the many great things that happened at L.Cpl. Nicholas S. Perez Elementary from 2006-2016:

  • Progress from Unacceptable to Recognized in the state accountability system.
  • Piloting of one-way and two-way dual language in 2010 and thereafter being consistently recognized for model program implementation. 
  • A commitment to inclusion, academic success, and legal compliance in campus Special Education services, which  included basic (resource), bilingual resource, preschool program for students with disabilities (PPCD), bilingual PPCD, Life Skills, Bilingual Life Skills, and Social Behavioral Skills (SBS), 
  • The Perez Parent Teacher Association (PTA) honored as the AISD PTA of the Year.
  • Intensive Perez staff participation in the community response to the devastating Onion Creek Halloween flood. 
  • An outdoor learning program — before that became a common practice in the district — recognized by the Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin with the prestigious John F. Ahrns Award for Environmental Education in 2022. Click for video.
  • Social Emotional Learning (SEL) a year before it was scheduled to begin, then consistently implemented and improved.
  • The Perez Running Team becoming the first elementary school to win awards at the Capital 10K, ultimately prompting race officials to create an elementary category rather than having Perez students participate in the middle school division.
  • Pioneering a series of “Family Field Trips,” which provided school buses after hours for students, staff, and family members to attend community events like the MLK, Jr. March & Festival, Austin Pow Wow, Texas Book Festival, and many more.
  • Close working relationships with community organizations, including Communities in Schools, Literacy First, the River City Youth Foundation, the Theater Action Project, and many more.

Demonstrated District Leadership

  • Teamwork made the dream work during the five+ years David Kauffman was Executive Director of Multilingual Education, where he was responsible for Dual Language, ESL, World Languages, the International Welcome Center, Refugee Family Support Services, Compliance, and curriculum translation services, in addition to directly supervising five campus principals. Click here to see a few highlights:

    • 6.5 percentage point increase in the graduation rate for students identified as emergent bilingual.
    • AISD students identified as emergent bilingual outperformed those in Texas at the end of elementary school (5th grade) on both the reading and math STAAR.
    • Dramatic improvement in the department’s customer service ratings on district staff surveys.
    • Extension of Dual Language into high school, leading to the first cohort of dual language graduates in 2022.
    • Collaborative redesign of the Elementary Dual Language program to a research-driven “90/10” model built on simultaneous biliteracy. 
    • Support of the Board of Trustees’ review and revision of Local Policy EHBE for Special Programs: Bilingual Education/ESL, which culminated in a 9-0 vote for approval.
    • Continuous improvement of relationships and processes to facilitate district-wide systemic alignment for improved Dual Language program implementation