About this series

Education reporter Sara Neufeld spent hundreds of hours interviewing Andrés Alonso, attending public meetings where he was present, and accompanying him on visits to schools and events after he was named CEO of the Baltimore schools in June 2007. She observed most of the scenes in this series that take place in Baltimore; others were reconstructed based on interviews with him and his relatives, friends, and current and former colleagues.

Alonso's adopted son, Joel, was interviewed for this story on the condition that his last name not be used because of his disabilities and challenging life circumstances.

• Sunday: An unusual path brings Baltimore's head of schools from a childhood in Cuba to Maryland via Harvard and New York.

• Monday: The new schools chief shakes up the bureaucracy with flair, making both believers and enemies.

• Tuesday: Andrés Alonso mobilizes help for the challenges he can't take on alone.

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