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Caroline B. Novak

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 2015.


Caroline B. Novak is president and cofounder of A+ Education Partnership, a non-profit dedicated to offering an excellent education to all Alabama children, no matter where they live. She attended the public schools of Montgomery, graduating from Sidney Lanier High School in 1965. She obtained a B.A. in economics from Hollins College and married Tabor Novak. After his military service, they returned to Montgomery where Tabor practices law.

Following Novak's employment with Merrill Lynch, she became involved in civic and education organizations. She led the development of the nationally recognized ARTWORKS interactive learning wing of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, visited by thousands of children, families, and teachers annually. Novak served as president of several groups including Leadership Montgomery and the Museum of Fine Arts. This work affirmed her belief that excellence in education is the key to a thriving community and laid the foundation for her decision to become involved in public education.

Novak was a member of the charter class of Leadership Alabama. During that year, she learned more about the depth of Alabama's issues in education and also about the role of citizens in organizing comprehensive efforts to improve education in states such as Kentucky. She challenged her class to address improvements in education as the path to a better Alabama. Bill Smith led the response to the call to action. With other members of the class, the guidance of advocates for equity such as Wayne Flynt, and with corporate support, they launched A+ in 1991.

A+ is now nationally recognized as the driver of real improvement for public education in Alabama. Initially, A+ focused on advocacy for comprehensive education reform and equitable funding. Novak then began efforts to not just talk about what is needed, but to demonstrate that Alabama students and teachers can succeed with the right mix of high standards, improvements in teaching, and accountability. She partnered with the state to develop and roll out the Alabama Reading Initiative, an effort that led to dramatic improvements in 4th grade reading scores, especially for minorities. A+ established two direct service divisions. The Alabama Best Practices Center works with teachers and school leaders across the state resulting in improved teaching and learning. A+ College Ready leads the nation in the rate of improvement in participation and success in Advanced Placement math, science and English courses.

More recently, Novak helped launch two statewide coalitions, the Alabama School Readiness Alliance and Alabama GRIT - Graduate Ready. Impact Tomorrow. These coalitions promote policies and investments for improving student success outlined in the State Board of Education's Plan 2020. Both efforts have led to success in legislative action. A+ promotes innovation through charter schools, redesigning traditional high schools and addressing students' out-of-school issues.

Novak currently serves on the boards of the Education Commission of the States, the Southern Regional Education Board, the Business Council of Alabama, Sterling Bank and Leadership Alabama. Her honors include recognition by Policy Innovators in Education, Samford University's Medallion Award and Mercedes-Benz. She and Tabor are proud that daughter Alice, son Tabor III, daughter-in-law Tyler, and their two granddaughters, Chiles and Carter, call Alabama home.

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