Jamar McKneely's educational philosophy is derived from Marian Wright Edelman's significant quote: "The question is not whether we can afford to invest in every child; it is whether we can afford not to." Jamar earned both a bachelor's degree in Finance and a master's degree in Educational Administration from Southern University in Baton Rouge. Prior to becoming an educator, he worked in the field of finance as a budget analyst for two non-profit organizations in Baton Rouge. After serving for seven years as a teacher and Assistant Principal at Edna Karr High School (grades 9-12), he transitioned to the position of Principal at Alice Harte Charter School (grades K-8). In 2013, together with the principal of Edna Karr, Jamar formed InspireNOLA Charter Schools, a new Charter Management Organization in New Orleans. Inspire NOLA assumed management of Edna Karr and Alice Harte at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year.
Under his leadership as principal at Alice Harte, its students experienced great success, including an increase of 25 points in the school's state School Performance Score. As Chief Executive Officer of InspireNOLA, the organization now educates 4,000 students in five schools: Alice Harte Charter, Edna Karr High School, McMain High School, Andrew Wilson Charter and 42 Charter School. Karr, McMain and Harte are three of the highest performing open-admission schools in New Orleans and have the highest parent demand. Andrew Wilson increased from an "F" to a "C" letter grade in one year and achieved the highest academic gains in New Orleans.
In 2013, Jamar founded the Alliance for Diversity and Excellence, with the mission of increasing diversity in the classroom, in school leadership and in educational administration in public charter schools. He currently serves as President of the group with over 100 members.
Since 2015, he has been a member of the Board of Directors for Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation, which is an entrepreneurial incubator in New Orleans and he currently serves as treasurer.
Every day when Jamar interacts with students, he is reminded that the only avenue to create the next great leaders of the nation, is through the combination of a rigorous classroom experience and comprehensive wraparound services.