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|Name||State||Photo & Bio|
John P. Conwell became Superintendent of the Unalaska City School District on July 1, 2007. Conwell began his career in education in 1989 after a decade working in Alaska’s construction industry. He has served as a classroom teacher, activities director, assistant principal, principal and special education director.
Recently, Conwell led the district through the self-study and external review process leading to full system accreditation by AdvancED the Northwest Accreditation Commission. During Conwell’s tenure, the District has accomplished several initiatives, including the establishment of a 7-year curriculum review cycle, a new teacher and administrator evaluation system and a transparent budget development process.
Under Conwell’s leadership, the Unalaska Jr./Sr. High School was awarded the 2011 National Blue Ribbon Award. In 2013 Eagle’s View Elementary School was nominated for the Blue Ribbon Award. Unalaska City Schools have consistently provided exemplary educational services which have resulted in high graduation rates, low drop-out rates and consistent academic growth among all groups of students.
Conwell began his career as a teacher in the remote Siberian Yu’pik village of Savoonga, Alaska. His interest in rural and ethnically diverse schools took him to Japan, where he taught English for three years in the rural villages of Gifu Prefecture. Conwell returned to Alaska in 1997 to serve as assistant principal, and later principal, for the Unalaska City School District.
Conwell received a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Teachers Certificate from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1989 and a Masters in Educational Leadership in 1997. He went on to earn an endorsement in special education and a graduate certificate in “Educational Leadership: Superintendent.” in 2006 from the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Conwell enjoys volunteer work and is actively involved in his local community. Conwell serves on the Board of the Ballyhoo Lions Club and he is member of the Local Emergency Planning Committee, the University of Alaska Bristol Bay Campus Advisory Committee, the Camp Qungaayux planning committee and the Martin Luther King, Jr. event planning committee.
Conwell and his wife, Mayumi, have two teenage sons, Brian (18) and Sean (15).
|Warren Craig Pouncey||AL||
Dr. Pouncey was previously Superintendent of Education of the Crenshaw County School System and served in that position for three terms as an elected Superintendent. During his career he also worked as a fourth grade teacher, sixth grade teacher and assistant principal. He completed his B.S. and M.S. in Elementary Education from Troy University. He has an Ed.S. in Educational Administration from Auburn University in Montgomery and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Samford University.
Prior to his appointment as Deputy State Superintendent for Administrative and Financial Services in 2010, Dr. Pouncey served as an Assistant State Superintendent beginning in 2005. He first served the department as the Director of Administrative and Financial Services.
As Deputy State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Pouncey was responsible for all fiscal management related to the Alabama State Department of Education, as well as all state and federal funds that flow through to Alabama's local school systems. He was also responsible for Pupil Transportation, Child Nutrition Programs, School Facilities, Technology Initiatives, Compliance Assistance Program, Local Education Agency Financial Assistance, Financial Accountability,, State Department of Education Accounting, State Department of Education Purchasing, and legislative activities. As Chief of Staff, Dr. Pouncey was responsible for the day-to-day operation of the department, as well as legislative and financial matters that affect K-12 education statewide.
Dr. Pouncey has been Superintendent of the Jefferson County School System since July 1, 2014. Serving more than 36,000 students in 56 schools, Jefferson County is Alabama's second largest school system. He has led the development of Accelerate JEFCOED, a comprehensive, district-wide waiver and instructional plan designed to remove barriers for innovation and generate multiple opportunities for all Jefferson County students to achieve college and career readiness.
Dr. Pouncey still considers himself a teacher with his primary goal being to teach people daily about Alabama's school funding system. He believes that "the more people know, the more they understand."
Warren Craig Pouncey
Jon Collins – Bio.
Jon Collins, a native of West Memphis, Ark., has served as Superintendent of West Memphis since July of 2013. A graduate of Arkansas Tech University with a MSE from Arkansas State University, Mr. Collins has previously served in the role of teacher / coach, dean of students, assistant high school principal, middle school principal, junior high principal, and high school principal.
Under his leadership, the West Memphis School District was approved for the first conversion charter school in the history of our state to partner a high school with a community college. Collins has also implemented a progressive grant campaign for strategic investment in the Delta generating over 7 million dollars for his district to date. And, just this past year has spear-headed a total revamping of his district’s literacy program as well.
Since 2015 the West Memphis School District has captured $24.1 million in state partnership funding for facility improvements. Collins has spear-headed an aggressive facilities plan to essentially rebuild or renovate our entire infrastructure for learning environments. West Memphis has also completed $4.6 million worth of general facility improvements during his tenure.
Mr. Collins’ vision for college and career readiness is one that has caught many state leaders’ attention over this past few years. He sees college and career readiness as a catalyst for economic development for our local communities and state-wide. Collins sees career education emphasis being pivotal over the course of the next decade for students in the state of Arkansas. The Academies of West Memphis model is designed to promote academic and career success and more importantly access for undereducated and economically challenged citizenry.
Jon traveled to Arlington, VA this past year to participate on a panel discussion sponsored by American Superintendent’s Association and the American Association of Community Colleges to improve college / career readiness. He has worked directly with former First Lady Laura Bush at the Bush Institute at SMU with their “Middle School Matters” project.
Mr. Collins, 46, is married to the former Misty Marconi of Proctor who is a self-employed artist. They have two sons: Tucker, a senior at West Memphis High School; Matthew, a 6th grader at Richland Elementary School.
Arkansas Public School Facilities Commission – Term expires 2025
District 1 Representative – Arkansas Superintendents AASA Board
Delta Arts Council Board of Directors member – Crittenden County, Arkansas
Education Chairman – West Memphis Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
Member – West Memphis Rotary Club
Secretary – Arkansas Activities Association
Dr. Doug Wilson has served as the Superintendent of Marana Unified School District since July 2008. As the chief administrative officer for the District he manages the day-to-day operations and the growth and development of the school district. His philosophy has always been to “do what’s best for the kids.”
After completing his undergraduate degree from Sterling College in Kansas, Dr. Wilson continued his education at Wichita State University earning a Masters in Education and his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Arizona State University.
Prior to joining the Marana School District, Dr. Wilson served as Assistant Superintendent in the Pueblo City Schools in Pueblo, Colorado, as well as Superintendent of the Agua Fria Union High School District in suburban Phoenix. In his 34 years in education, Dr. Wilson has functioned as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent.
Dr. Wilson has served in a variety of capacities throughout the community including President of the Arizona School Administrators Superintendents Division, Arizona Interscholastic Association, and the Arizona Coalition for Educational Excellence. Dr. Wilson also served as Vice President of Tucson Values Teachers Board of Directors and was a member of the YMCA Board of Directors Leadership Committee.
Dr. Mary Sieu has been with ABC Unified School District since 1989 and has served as Superintendent since 2012. She served in a variety of leadership positions in the District including Deputy Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent of Academic Services. Prior to working in ABCUSD, she was a Clinical Supervisor of the Teacher Education Lab at UCLA supervising preservice teachers in the Graduate School of Education.
Dr. Sieu is the daughter of an immigrant family from mainland China. Although she grew up in the back of a laundry, she loved the world of school in the Chicago Public Schools. She learned English as a second language along with her four siblings and was inspired by the wonderful teachers and principals in her schools. By eighth grade, she was the President of the Future Teachers of America. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from George Williams College, IL and Masters of Arts degree from California State University, Northridge.
She began her career as an elementary teacher in the Chicago Public Schools and later taught in the Chino Unified School District in California. She spent several years as a foreign language teacher at an engineering college in the People's Republic of China. When she returned from China, she worked at UCLA's Teacher Education Lab as a Clinical Supervisor. During her administrative services credential program at UCLA, she learned about ABC Unified School District in southeast corner of Los Angeles County, where she has worked since 1989. While working as an administrator in ABCUSD, Dr. Sieu also worked as an adjunct professor at the Rossier School of Education at USC for eight years. Although she obtained her Ph.D. in Education at UCLA, she supports both the Bruins and Trojans and refers herself as a "Brojan".
She has spoken extensively throughout the country on the successful practices she has led in ABCUSD including collaborative labor management relations, increasing parent engagement, building leadership capacity and promoting magnet schools in the district. She is the Founder and creator of the ABC Parent Leadership Academy and Conference that earned the National School Boards Assocation's Magna Grand Prize Award in 2015. During her tenure as Superintendent of ABCUSD, all five middle schools have been honored as Schools to Watch/National Model Middle Schools, four high schools and nine elementary schools have been recognized as California Gold Ribbon Schools. She has been instrumental in obtaining 16 Golden Bell Awards for exemplary programs in ABCUSD from the California School Boards Association since 2002.
In the community, Dr. Sieu served as President of the Cerritos Regional Chamber of Commerce in 2010-11. During that same period she served on the State Board of Directors for the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) for two years (2010-12). She is currently an active member of the Cerritos-Artesia Rotary Club, Cerritos Optimist Club, Soroptimist Club, Artesia Chamber of Commerce, and the Hawaiian Gardens Southeast Regional Collaborative.
She is the Founder of the Women's Leadership Network(WLN) for ACSA Region XIV in 2010. The WLN continues today in its 7th year. She was selected for the State ACSA's Valuing Diversity Award in 2011 and was awarded ACSA Region XIV Administrator of the Year in 2010. In 2012, Dr. Sieu was honored with the "Woman of Distinction Award" by California State Senator Alan Lowenthal. In 2016, Dr. Sieu was honored by State Senator Tony Mendoza as 2016 "Woman of the Year". The Community Family Guidance Center honored Dr. Sieu in 2016 with their "Protector of Children Award" for creating a multi-tiered system of support in dealing with the socio-emotional needs of students.
In April, 2017, Dr. Sieu was selected as ACSA Region XIV Superintendent of the Year. Most recently, she was selected as ACSA 2017 State Superintendent of the Year. She will be honored at the State Awards Ceremony on November 3, 2017 in San Jose, CA.
Walt Cooper assumed the role of superintendent in the Cheyenne Mountain School District on July 1, 2006 after having served as the District’s Assistant Superintendent for Business Operations since 2002.
Dr. Cooper is a native of Lakewood, Colorado and is a graduate of Alameda High School in the Jefferson County Public Schools. He holds a bachelor’s degree in physical education from the University of Northern Colorado, a master’s degree in educational administration from Ft. Hays (Kansas) State University, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Dr. Cooper started his public education career as a high school teacher and coach in Hill City, Kansas in 1984. He later served as middle school principal in Hill City before returning to Colorado as principal of North Valley Middle School in LaSalle. Following a two-year term as Assistant Superintendent in Weld County, Colorado, Dr. Cooper was named superintendent of the Ellicott, Colorado School District in 1998. He served in this role for four years before coming to Cheyenne Mountain.
In addition to his duties as superintendent, Dr. Cooper recently completed a three-year term as Legislative Committee Chairperson of the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE), is a board member of the Green Education Foundation, and is an alumnus (2009) of the Colorado Springs Leadership Institute.
Dr. Cooper received the 2017 Colbert Cushing Award for outstanding leadership by the Colorado Association of Superintendents and Senior Administrators, and the 2012 CASE Policy Leadership Award for his work with the Colorado General Assembly in support of K-12 public schools. He also received the 2002 Bob Cito Vision and Leadership Award from the Pikes Peak BOCES for his work in developing cooperative programs for special needs students in eastern El Paso County, and was named 1996 Administrator of the Year by the Colorado Association of Health, Physical Education, and Dance for his support of physical education in public schools.
|James Thompson, Jr.||CT||
James Thompson, Jr., Ed.D.
As Superintendent of Schools for the Town of Bloomfield, CT, James Thompson is recognized as one of the state’s most respected educational leaders for his work in improving student performance and reducing the academic achievement gap.
He has had a long and distinguished career in public education, as a teacher, vice principal, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent. Dr. Thompson has worked mostly in school districts where a significant portion of the population was at-or-below the poverty level. Through his leadership, Dr. Thompson has led teams that transformed low-performing schools into ones identified state-wide, regionally and nationally for academic improvement.
For example, in 2011 Bloomfield High School was identified by the State Department of Education as one of the lowest-performing high schools in Connecticut. In 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked Bloomfield High as one of Top High Schools in CT - #36. (There are about 350 public high schools in the state.)
During his tenure as principal, the Simpson-Waverly Elementary School in Hartford, CT received the national No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon School award. In 2003, Simpson-Waverly was one of six schools recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in its report: Learning from Six High Poverty, High Achieving Blue Ribbon Schools.
Dr. Thompson is highly regarded as a mentor, coach, and a builder of collaborative teams. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2016 Man of the Year by Connecticut’s African American Affairs Commission. Dr. Thompson was also recognized by the CT NAACP as one of 100 Most Influential Blacks in Connecticut.
He was named Administrator of the Year in 1995 and 2004 by both the Hartford Principals and Supervisors' Association -- and the Hartford Public Schools.
Dr. Thompson received his Master’s Degree in Urban Education from the University of Hartford. He earned his Doctor of Education Degree in Education Leadership from Nova University in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
After graduating from Hartford Public High School, Dr. Thompson received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. Upon completion of his undergraduate studies, he returned to Connecticut and began his career as an elementary school teacher in Hartford.
James Thompson, Jr.
Victoria C. Gehrt, Ed.D.
To introduce this biographical summary of Victoria C. Gehrt, she would describe herself as an educator who…
• Champions every child, making decisions that will improve each student’s ability to reach and exceed expectations
• Seeks equity and access for all
• Has a leadership style that is responsive, considerate and respectful in all situations – always open to ideas that challenge her point of view
• Is eager to learn, then leverages that learning to benefit students
• Respects the work of fellow administrators, teachers and all district staff
• Is decisive, and presents with a positive force and a desire to move things forward after thoughtful discourse and diligent analysis
• Is accountable and appreciates the opportunity to justify allocation of resources based on student needs
• Encourages transparency and invites evaluation and review by all stakeholder groups
• Believes that hiring on all levels should be carried out with the goal of improving academic progress
Victoria C. Gehrt was born in 1949 in Cyprus. She along with her parents and two sisters immigrated to the United States in 1956. Her father was a minister and served as the Executive Director of the Armenian Missionary Association of America for decades after concluding his ministry in Pennsylvania. She has had a rich career in education, beginning as a special education teacher in 1971. She then moved to a specialized job as Affective Education Specialist during the period when northern Delaware public schools were desegregated by court order. Experiences she encountered in that position made a profound impact on her, serving to shape and guide her educational leadership for the next 40-plus years. All students can and must be given the opportunity to achieve, regardless of barriers and resources. After serving in a variety of school and central office administrative positions, Victoria was named as Superintendent of the New Castle County Vocational Technical School District since August, 2011. She oversees the county-wide school system that operates four comprehensive career and technical high schools – Delcastle, Hodgson, Howard, and St. Georges – and an Adult Education Division. The NCC Vo-Tech School District has a combined enrollment of 4,600 students in grades nine through twelve, and serves more than 3,000 day and evening students in the adult programs. The district has over 600 full-time employees, and ranks 10th in total enrollment out of Delaware’s 19 public school districts.
Victoria spent 22 years with the NCC Vo-Tech School District from 1978 to 2000. She served as an assistant principal at the Howard Career Center (now Howard High School of Technology) for six years before being named the school district’s Director of Instructional Services in 1989. She was an assistant superintendent in the vo-tech district from 1998 to 2000, when she left to become interim superintendent of the Brandywine School District (DE), for one year. She was then named superintendent of Bensalem (PA) Township School District, where she served for five years until 2006. Prior to returning to NCC Vo-Tech as Superintendent, she was the assistant superintendent of the Kennett Consolidated School District (PA) from 2006 to 2011. She earned her Doctor of Education from the University of Delaware in 1990, where she also received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Education degrees. The University of Delaware named her the Outstanding Education Alumni of the Year in 1995. She has been an adjunct professor in both the masters and doctoral programs at Wilmington College.
She is engaged in community service in a number of ways, including involvement in her local Rotary Club, her local school district foundation board, and her international work with the Jinishian Memorial Program.
As a result of her 45 years as a public educator, Victoria has extensive career accomplishments that she is extremely proud to share. She believes it is important to provide the environment that encourages visionary and creative leadership for the continuous improvement and excellence of her districts and schools. Some of her most note-worthy professional achievements include:
• Her ability to move school districts forward with improvements in student achievement and in closing achievement gaps with data to substantiate these efforts.
• Her leadership in facilitating and encouraging the use of technology as an integral instructional tool for all learners, from being the first in the state in 1980 to utilize computers for instruction – to instituting an Earn-A-Computer program for instructors to bring technology to each classroom by training teachers to utilize software through an incentive program in the late 80’s - to replacing typewriters with computers in business technology classrooms (a major shift and change for teachers at the time) – to developing the first high-school level Microsoft Certification Program on the East Coast – to providing all teachers with individual computers for use in the classroom by the mid-90’s – to initiating on-line courses for languages such as Arabic and Japanese and other academic content areas – to funding the first high school one-to-one computer device program in Delaware – to developing a plan to implement a district-wide one-to-one program this coming school year.
• Her commitment to innovation and progress, such as: bringing full-day Kindergarten to Kennett while employed there; adding Spanish classes in all K-8 grade levels in a community where 40% of the students are Hispanic; developing new career programs at NCCVTSD such as Surgical Technician, Building Automation Systems Technician, Information Technology (curricula that includes programming and certifications in Java, Python, Cisco); offering dual enrollment opportunities to qualified students to attend the local community college with their tuition, books and transportation paid for; and founding the BRINC Consortium that began with four school districts working together to develop a blended and personalized learning platform to now having nine member school districts. The Delaware Department of Education decided to offer the consortium’s selected learning management system as a statewide instructional tool based on BRINC’s success.
• Her ability to engage businesses and the community by: creating authentic partnerships and fostering a sense stakeholdership on everyone’s part, working together to make the school system the best that it can be; recognizing how significant business partners roles can be in training the community’s future employees; and embracing and utilizing the power of the collaborative process and leveraging the involvement generated as a result of such partnerships.
Michael A. Grego, Ed.D., joined the district in September 2012, following a national search.
An educator with more than 35 years of experience, Dr. Grego began his career as a classroom teacher with Hillsborough County Schools. He became a department head and then advanced to become Assistant Superintendent for Technical, Career & Adult Education, and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction. After serving 28 years with Hillsborough County Schools, he was selected as Superintendent of the Osceola County school district. There, he was credited with dramatic academic improvements, especially among minority students. He then served as Florida’s Interim Chancellor of K-12 Education. Before joining Pinellas County Schools, Dr. Grego joined the Educational Leadership faculty at the University of Central Florida, where he was an Associate Professor, teaching graduate and doctoral level courses.
A New York native, Dr. Grego earned a bachelor of science degree from the State University of New York. He holds two master’s degrees, one in Industrial Technology Education from Illinois State University, and one in Educational Leadership from the University of South Florida. He earned his doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from USF.
Since he began as Superintendent of Pinellas County Schools, Dr. Grego has implemented numerous initiatives to increase opportunities for learning. He launched an ambitious summer learning program to mitigate summer learning losses, and Promise Time, which offers an extra 60-90 minutes of instruction in reading, math and science at struggling schools. Pinellas County Schools also initiated Connect for Success, which provides take-home laptops for students at Title I elementary schools.
Dr. Grego has aggressively worked to eliminate achievement gaps in Pinellas County Schools. In 2013, the district implemented the Bridging the Gap strategic plan aimed at boosting achievement, increasing graduation rates and improving student engagement for African American students. In 2014, Pinellas County Schools initiated Scale Up for Success, a program focused on increasing achievement at several St. Petersburg schools. In 2016, the district established a Transformation Zone with intense support for lower performing schools.
Florida Trend magazine named Dr. Grego one of its “People to Watch” in 2013 for his plan to expand summer learning opportunities. That same year, he was a finalist for the Florida Department of Education’s Florida District Data Leader of the Year Award. In 2014, Dr. Grego received an inaugural Whitney M. Young Jr. Leadership Award from the Pinellas County Urban League for his commitment to the community.
In 2016, he received the USF College of Education Dean’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The same year, he was recognized by the Board of Directors of Personal Enrichment through Mental Health Services (PEMHS) with the 2016 Pacesetter award in the Special Recognition category; and he was selected as a finalist for the Green-Garner Award from the Council of the Great City Schools. The Green-Garner Award, which recognizes outstanding leadership, is presented to a big-city school superintendent and board member in alternative years. The winner is considered by peers as the Urban Educator of the Year.
Under Dr. Grego’s direction, Pinellas County Schools has achieved districtwide accreditation and has been recognized for several major accomplishments. The Learning Counsel honored Pinellas County Schools as one of the top 10 districts in the nation for its digital curriculum strategy. During the 2015-16 school year, the district was named a Ford Next Generation Learning Model Community, a milestone designation for preparing high school students for success in college, career and life. A 2017 report by the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C, ranked Pinellas County Schools as the top in Florida and 10th in the nation for districts offering the best choices for parents. The district earned the top score in Florida two years in a row. In 2017, Pinellas County Schools also earned top-10 ranking in the annual Digital School Districts Survey for exemplary use of technology. The same year, Pinellas was named one of the Great Districts for Great Teachers by the National Council for Teacher Quality. The award honors districts that celebrate, support and reward great teachers.
Dr. Steve Barker has served as the superintendent of the Coweta County School System since April 1, 2011. Dr. Barker began his career in education with the Coweta County School System in Newnan, Georgia in 1990 as a middle school teacher. During his 27 year career in Coweta County, Dr. Barker has held several positions including teacher, assistant principal, and athletic director. He was named principal of Canongate Elementary School in 1999, principal of Smokey Road Middle School in 2001, and principal of Newnan High School from 2003 to 2007. In 2007 Dr. Barker was named Director of Administrative Services for the Coweta County School System before being named Superintendent in 2011. While leading the school system through the recession, Dr. Barker has focused on academic achievement, financial and organizational effectiveness, developing strong leaders, building partnerships with stakeholders, and supporting the classroom teacher. Dr. Barker received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Shorter University in 2007 and received the Exemplary Service Award from the Georgia School Superintendents Association in 2016.
Dr. Barker earned his Bachelor of Science from Shorter College, his Master's from the State University of West Georgia, and his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. He is a native of Dalton, Georgia, married to Karen Jackson Barker, and has two children – Cade and Lilli Glen.
Greg Ebeling has been the Superintendent of Pella Community Schools since 2011. Prior to Pella he spent seven years as superintendent in Spencer, Iowa, and five years as an administrator at Maquoketa Valley School in Delhi, Iowa. Greg started his career as a math teacher and coach in Oskaloosa, Iowa. He earned his B.A. from Gustavus Adolphus College, his M.A. from Drake University and his superintendent's endorsement from University of Northern Iowa.
Greg is married has three children and two grand children.
Robert Donaldson was born in Washington, Pennsylvania, and is one of four siblings. Bob’s father, James, was an attorney, and mother, Alice, a high school teacher.
Bob received an undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1975; a master of education degree in special education followed from the University of Kentucky in 1977. He received a doctor of philosophy degree with an emphasis in education administration from the University of Idaho in 1986.
Bob started his teaching career for Milwaukee, Wisconsin Public Schools in 1980 and was employed by the Lewiston School District in 1993 as assistant principal at Jenifer Junior High School. He went on to serve as Jenifer Junior High Principal and Lewiston High School Principal before joining the Lewiston School District Central Services administration as Assistant Superintendent in 2011. In 2013, he accepted employment as Superintendent of Schools.
Bob’s spouse, Jodi, is a kindergarten teacher at McSorley Elementary School, and they reside in Lewiston. Bob and Jodi have two children. Their daughter, Storey, is a health care professional, and son, Aaron, a firefighter and emergency medical technician. The Donaldson household also includes two lovable canine kids.
In addition to spending time with their family, the Donaldson's love to entertain friends in their home, travel, read, cook, and maintain an active lifestyle.
Dr. David R. Schuler, a national education leader and superintendent of the second-largest high school district in Illinois, is passionate about preparing students to be college, career and life ready.
Dr. Schuler launched Redefining Ready!, a national campaign that introduces research-based metrics to demonstrate postsecondary readiness, during his time as 2015-16 president of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, which represents public school leaders across the U.S. and Canada. He believes students are more than just a test score, the traditional indicator of readiness.
His work on Redefining Ready! has been published in several publications, including The Journal of School Administration Research and Development, the Illinois School Board Journal and On Board, the newspaper for the New York State School Boards Association. Dr. Schuler has testified about college and career readiness before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
The superintendent of High School District 214 in Chicago’s northwest suburbs, he is an expert on a variety of public education issues, including student achievement, closing the achievement gap, removing barriers to student success, superintendent transitions and innovative instructional technology. With a classroom and administrative background, Dr. Schuler believes in inspiring all students and school district leaders to find their passion and reach their full potential, preparing them for futures none of us can yet imagine.
Since he took the helm in 2005, District 214 students have earned more than 600 career certifications in areas including computer programming, manufacturing and healthcare. District 214 now teaches computer science to all 12,000 students, and its six schools were among only seven in the nation to pilot an iOS app development curriculum, initiatives which were recognized by the White House.
His push to make college more accessible and affordable has led to a comprehensive career pathways program that offers personalized learning experiences through early college credit, internships and career credentials, and the passage of critical education legislation. In a single year, District 214 earned more than 27,000 early college credits. In addition, District 214’s nationally-unique internship program has led to students logging more than 2 million hours since 2009. Annually, 2,000 District 214 students participate in external workplace experiences.
To eliminate disparity and ensure better access to early college credits for thousands of high school students, District 214 helped write, champion and pass legislation requiring every public Illinois college and university to accept Advanced Placement scores of 3 or higher.
Under his leadership, achievement levels in District 214 have soared amid changing demographics: the Class of 2015 ACT composite score reached a record high of 23.6, well above the state and national average, and the number of students taking Advanced Placement tests has more than tripled. All six schools in 2016 were ranked among the best and most challenging in the state by U.S. News and World Report and The Washington Post.
Dr. Schuler began his career as a social studies teacher, athletic coach, activity adviser and director of athletics and activities before becoming a high school principal. He has served as a superintendent for the past 16 years in three different districts.
In 2009 he was named a Top Educator Under 40 by Scholastic Administrator Magazine and in 2015 was recognized as one of the Top 30 Technologists, Transformers & Trailblazers by the Center for Digital Education. He also is the recipient of the 2016 Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award for envisioning and executing an innovative plan to better engage the community through outreach, public affairs, communications and alumni efforts.
Dr. Schuler earned his bachelor’s degree from Carroll University and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Dr. Robinson is a tireless advocate of public education and in her more than four decades in public education has developed close working relationships with some of the most prestigious educational organizations in the country. Dr. Robinson was one of the members of the inaugural class of Broad Center Fellows, a program designed to prepare and challenge urban school leaders. She is nationally recognized for her expertise in improving urban education and is frequently asked to speak at conferences and events hosted by organizations such as Learning Forward, The Wallace Foundation, American Association of School Administrators and the NYC Leadership Academy. Dr. Robinson has received numerous awards, including being named a 2016 Education Week Leader to Learn From and receiving the National Alliance of Black School Educators 2009 Joseph E. Hill Superintendent of the Year Award.
Dr. Robinson is an active member of the community and has formed partnerships with local agencies and businesses to increase educational opportunities. She serves on numerous boards including Greater Fort Wayne Inc. and Parkview Hospital. She is a longtime member of the Indiana Urban Schools Association, serving as president in 2012 and 2013. She will lead IUSA again in 2018. She was also a member of the Indiana Panel to Study Alternatives to the ISTEP, a state-appointed committee recommending changes to Indiana’s standardized testing system.
In her 40 years with Fort Wayne Community Schools, she has served as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal and central office administrator. She was appointed to the position of Superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools in July 2003 after an eight-year assignment as Deputy Superintendent. Dr. Robinson was awarded her undergraduate and advanced degrees from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and Ball State University in Muncie. Her Ed.D. in educational administration and supervision was obtained from Ball State in 1996.
Awards and Honors
2018 – Indiana Superintendent of the Year, Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents
2017 – Partner in Purpose, Great Progressive Baptist Church
2016 – Leaders to Learn From, Education Week
2015 – Outstanding PTA Partner, Indiana PTA
2014 – Co-Citizen of the Year with Mark GiaQuinta, The Journal Gazette
2013 – Chairman’s Award, Indiana Civil Rights Commission/ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Indiana Holiday Commission
2012 – Mike Kneale Educational Excellence in Leadership Award, Education Research & Development Institute (ERDI)
2010 – Communities for a Lifetime Award of Excellence, Aging & In-Home Services of Northeast Indiana, Inc.
2009 – Joseph E. Hill Superintendent of the Year, National Alliance of Black School Educators
2008 - District II Superintendent of the Year, Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents
2005 - Athena Award
2004 – Elizabeth Dobynes Award, Fort Wayne NAACP
2004 – Helene R. Foellinger Achievement Award, YWCA
John Allison is entering his first year as the Superintendent of the Olathe Public Schools. He previously served as Superintendent in the Wichita Public Schools from 200 to 2017. During his tenure as superintendent, the district has led the implementation of systemic reforms that focus on developing and improving students’ literacy skills. Allison’s reform effort, developed around a framework of Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS), is in its seventh year in 2016-17.
Allison believes community involvement in education is essential for student success. Since his arrival in Wichita in July 2009, Allison has actively reached out to stakeholders of all types including students, parents, staff, partners and business leaders. Key outcomes shaped by an engaged community include budget development, boundary changes, bond issue pause and study decisions, and various aspects of student achievement.
Active in civic and community leadership during his career, Allison is a member of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. He helped develop the Business Education Innovation Partnership between the district and the Chamber, allowing partners in the business community to evaluate different business areas of the district to find efficiencies and to share ideas about best practices. This initiative led to the formation of the Chamber’s Business and Education Alliance Policy Committee, a critical effort to advance business and workforce issues in the region. He recently been named to the Olathe Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
Allison has served on the United Way of the Plains Board of Directors and a Planning Committee member, is a member of the Kansas/Missouri Superintendent’s Forum, the Wichita Area Outlook Team and the Kansas African American Museum.
In 2012 and 2016 Allison was named a finalist for Richard R. Green Award, the nation’s top prize for urban school education leadership by the Council of Great City Schools.
He is currently beginning his first year as the superintendent of the Olathe Public Schools. Prior to becoming superintendent for the Wichita Public Schools, Allison served for two years as superintendent of the Mt. Lebanon School District in Pennsylvania. His educational career also includes service as deputy superintendent of the Grapevine-Colleyville School District in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, associate superintendent for education services for the Shawnee Mission (KS) School District, and as a high school social studies teacher and coach.
Allison obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Kansas and his Masters of Science from Emporia State University. He has completed doctoral course work in Education Leadership at St. Louis University and is completing his doctoral disstertation at Southwestern College .
|Dr. James Evans, Jr.||KY||
Dr. James Evans, Jr.
Nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Evans took a job as an instructional aide for a special needs student at the Lee County School District, and he never looked back. Now, after more than a decade as Superintendent of the district he calls home, he is recognized widely across Kentucky as a leader with a palpable tenacity for progress, a pulse for lifelong learning, and an avante-garde leader for children from Paducah to Pikeville.
A first-generation college student, Evans’ roots run deep in Lee County soil. A product of the community and school system, he has served as an instructional aide, teacher, assistant principal, principal, transportation director, and superintendent. Evans believes his work in each position has helped him build a cohesive, complex understanding of the full functioning of a school district. He is proud of the model he has set for students and staff of lifelong learning and continuous improvement. In the decade since he became superintendent, he has led the district’s rise in the ranks to top 50 in Kentucky and 1 of 15 districts statewide that are recognized as Districts of Distinction.
Over the years, Dr. Evans has served on over two dozen boards and committees at the state and local levels and has been active in advocacy efforts for Kentucky children. He has testified before the Senate/House Education Committees numerous times regarding the need for Broadband, road improvements, Dual Credit, Computer Science Coding Initiative, funding equality, and the School Calendar. Dr. Evans traveled to Washington D.C. to represent both the district and Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC) on a national panel discussion regarding the I3 Grant. He was invited by Microsoft Corporation to speak on a national panel for Computer Science for All at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri. Some of his critical roles of service include:
•Kentucky Association of School Administrators Legislative Committee
•Kentucky Association of School Administrators Superintendent Mentor
•Kentucky Association of School Administrators School Safety Committee (Vice Chair)
•American Association of School Administrators Member
•Kentucky Association of School Superintendents Vice President
•Kentucky Association of School Superintendents Legislative Committee
•Kentucky Center for Performance Excellence Board Member
•Kentucky School Boards Association Regional Secretary of the Upper Kentucky River Region
•Kentucky School Boards Association Legislative Steering Committee
•Superintendent Professional Growth and Evaluation Steering Committee
•Kentucky Center for School Safety (Executive Board, Vice Chair, and Assessment Teams)
•AdvancED Kentucky State Council Chair and Diagnostic Review Teams Statewide
•Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative Executive Board (Vice Chair)
•Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative 16-17 Past Chair
•Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative Appalachian Renaissance Initiative Design Team
•Kentucky Educational Development Corporation Executive Board
•Kentucky Educational Development Corporation Chair 17-18
•Kentucky Dual Credit State Committee
•Forward in the Fifth Executive Board
•Middle Kentucky River Executive Board
Dr. Evans has also been instrumental in bringing programming to his district, which is located in a “distressed” county per the Appalachian Regional Commission. From grants to partnerships for growth, Dr. Evans has led his district head-on into KASA’s Process Improvement and Performance Excellence (PIPE) work (which yielded a Level 1 Baldrige Performance Excellence Award), earned AdvancED Southern Association District Accreditation, engaged schools in the Perpetuating Excellence in Teaching and Learning initiative through the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC), and worked through an extensive Quality Assurance Review Audit and eight KCSS safety audits. He has also worked to bring career pathways in aerospace and engineering through Project Lead the Way and computer science through Microsoft’s Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS). Lee County Schools was one of the first four districts nation-wide to implement the Computer Science Pathway with Microsoft. He also instituted a dual credit cohort, started a National Board Certified Teacher Cohort, worked with his board to adopt and 18-year-old dropout rate, and became a Future Ready District. Today, the district is implementing over a dozen grants ranging from health and nutrition to technology education.
Dr. Evans earned a bachelor’s in 1992 from Eastern Kentucky University, master’s in 1999 from Eastern Kentucky University, and doctorate of education from Morehead State University in 2014. He was recognized by the American Association of School Administrators for his doctoral work for School Turnaround, and has been featured in various articles and publications for his advocacy efforts for student academic, social, emotional, and local economic development and infrastructure needs. He was awarded the KSBA Kids First Advocacy Award in 2015, KEDC 2016 Outstanding Superintendent of the Year, KASA 2017 finalist for Kentucky Superintendent of the Year, and 2017 Kentucky School Boards Association F.L. Dupree Superintendent of the Year.
He has been married to his wife Roxanne 25 years and they have two wonderful sons Michael James (20) a junior at Vanderbilt University and Wesley Grant (16) a junior at Lee County High School.
Follow on Twitter @DrJWEvansJr
Dr. James Evans, Jr.
The great tennis player Arthur Ashe once described success as “a journey, not a destination,” and I believe his simple message best captures my approach in my role as a superintendent for the past seven years.
The district where I serve, West Feliciana Parish Public Schools in St. Francisville, Louisiana, has made great strides academically, and we’ve emphasized new partnerships as we strive to bring innovation to our classrooms. In 2010, we were a “B” school district, but for the past six consecutive years, we’ve been recognized as an “A” district. Simultaneously, we have improved our financial situation while protecting and enhancing our classrooms with the integration of the latest technology and a focus on teaching all curriculums through a lens of student leadership.
My wife Nikki is also an educator, and in 22 years of marriage, I have learned so much about life, parenting and education from her. Since we met as undergraduates at Southeastern Louisiana University, she has helped me become a better person and a better educator. Both of our children, Eli and Anna, attend the West Feliciana Parish Public System. The fact that our children attend public schools is a testimony to our commitment to and our belief in public schools. We have an unwavering believe that strong public schools are the foundation for our democracy and the best avenue to ensure that all students receive an equitable chance at the American Dream.
My journey into teaching began in 1999 at McDonough No. 28 Junior High School in New Orleans. Most of the students came from very impoverished neighborhoods in the Seventh and Ninth Wards of New Orleans. I flourished in that environment, and I learned as much from the students as they learned from me. Many of the teachers, mostly from New Orleans, expressed surprise at my ability to relate to the students and utilize that relationship to encourage students and challenge them to achieve their potential.
I believe that my ability to connect with my students came from my own childhood experiences. I grew up in Hammond during the 1970s and 1980s. I have strong memories of this special time in my life, and I believe my passion to serve students has roots in these formative years. My father was a construction worker, and my mother was a state employee who served special needs children. My mom deeply loved the children she served. She believed in them and would go the extra mile to help them succeed. As my first teachers, they taught me that success is a culmination of your life’s work. From them, I learned to be positive, work very hard, and always stay humble. My father typically worked 10-hour days and farmed in the evening to bring in additional money. I learned the value of hard work by getting up at 4:30 a.m. to harvest the crops before school and then watering and tending to the fields after school.
As a child, I learned some valuable lessons from my father through farming that have helped me as an educator, father and superintendent. First, we started with a vision, a few precious resources, and a lot of faith. I learned to invest my time and energy, believing that our efforts would pay off even when we faced obstacles. With each passing week, I was inspired by the progress and the growth I saw. When the harvest came, I had an opportunity to witness directly the fruits of our labor.
That's exactly how I feel when I see students graduate in our small town. It's awe-inspiring to watch our graduation ceremony on the middle of our football field, where students were encouraged and cared for, where they played as children, and a place that no matter how far they go, they will always call home.
My mother was very nurturing, and you could see this in her dedication to students who had tremendous challenges. She also taught me one invaluable lesson. She came from a very poor family and had dropped out of high school to help her family in the 11th grade. When I was nine years old, she decided to return to school because she was determined to earn her diploma. Although she was worn out at the end of a long day’s work, she would come home and cook and helped me with my homework. After all that, she left to attend night classes so she could pursue her dream of earning her GED. Although this may seem like a modest accomplishment to some, I knew this was an incredible feat she had achieved against so many odds. I was extremely proud of her when she reached her milestone, and her efforts taught me that perseverance, persistence, and humility will lead to success over the long term.
As a product of Louisiana’s public school system, I am a firm believer in the power of education. Although I went to schools that are now labeled “poor performing,” I didn’t see it that way as I was growing up. My parents were very supportive of my teachers, although they were not able to attend most events because of their work schedules. However, my parents ensured that I had the necessary materials and the right mindset so that I could be successful. Many of my students did not have the support that I had, but they were eager to learn and they succeeded because of their effort and persistence and because our teachers held high expectations.
My former teachers understood the challenges single parents and guardians faced and made sure that they provided the support necessary for all students to be successful. This experience has driven my mission and my district’s vision to help students reach their potential while instilling the characteristics that will build future leaders. My role as a teacher, administrator and as superintendent is to value, strengthen and support the student-parent-teacher partnership because I firmly believe this is the key variable to long-term student achievement.
As Past President of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, I believe that we as a state must uplift the teaching profession, strengthen partnerships with parents and build leadership capacity at the local, regional and state levels. In my district, we endeavor to promote our teachers and administrators so they are recognized and honored for their accomplishments. In the past five years, West Feliciana has been recognized with a statewide high school principal of the year, a statewide high school teachers of the year, a statewide middle school teacher of the year and the overall state teacher of the year in 2015. These leaders and I advance the profession by speaking at numerous events across the state. I am working with bealerninghero.org to help support and promote the partnership between students, parents and teachers.
Effective leadership is critical for the future of public education in the United States. In my district, we created a leadership academy for aspiring administrators and, on the state level, I have led a cooperative effort with the Louisiana School Boards Association to create a Superintendents Academy that began last fall. Out of the superintendent's academy, three new superintendents were selected in one year. All of these efforts help promote the overall well-being of students, teachers and parents. Indeed, our most valuable contribution today is through our investment in education, one that will pay off with rich dividends by creating leaders for tomorrow.
I am fortunate to be the leader of a wonderful school system that has so many dedicated and talented employees as well as the support of our parents, school board, community, and students. My district and I are dedicated to the journey and embrace it by growing, learning and improving with each day. We take time to celebrate and enjoy the success that we have attained, and we continue to strive forward as our students realize their potential and achieve critical milestones. I am thankful to be part of a school system that measures itself by the journey and not the destination. By viewing our work through that lens, it ensures that we avoid shortcuts while continuing to maintain a strong sense of urgency to take each day as an opportunity to get better at serving our students. With this commitment to excellence, we strive to help ALL of our students achieve their full potential. This ensures that we live out our mission statement, which states, “Student Success: Learning today, Leading Tomorrow.”
Dr. Julie Hackett is the President of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents and the Superintendent of the Taunton Public Schools, one of 24 urban school systems in the Commonwealth. A first-generation college student from a working-class community, she is grateful for her outstanding public education.
Dr. Hackett’s career in public education spans more than 25 years, and she remains a passionate advocate for eliminating barriers to student learning and post-secondary pursuits for all. As a high school English teacher in Old Town, Maine, she focused on working with at-risk students, developing an innovative partnership between high school and pre-kindergarten. Her work as a teacher-researcher culminated in her first co-authored book, Strategic Reading: Guiding Students to Lifelong Literacy, 6-12 (Heinemann, 2000). Moving from classroom teacher to building and system leader, Julie continued her career in a variety of administrative roles in diverse, rural, suburban, and urban districts, in both disadvantaged and affluent public school systems. While serving as a middle school principal in 2001, Governor Angus King appointed Julie to the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) Design Team. Maine was the first state in the nation to put laptops in the hands of every middle school student, earning MLTI recognition for creating the largest 1:1 educational technology program in the world. As a Director of Curriculum and Instruction and a Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, Dr. Hackett developed comprehensive PK-12 local assessment systems, implemented a district-wide K-8 foreign language program, and led numerous strategic planning efforts for school systems, communities, and non-profits, including the Boys and Girls Club.
In 2009, Julie was the first female to be named superintendent in the history of the Taunton Public Schools. Taunton is a diverse urban city in Massachusetts with nearly two-thirds of its 8,200 students eligible for free and reduced lunch. Now in her tenth year leading this school system, Julie writes about the importance of stable leadership in effecting long-lasting, sustainable change (“The High Price of Superintendent Turnover,” School Administrator, October 2015).
Guided by her firm belief that inclusion benefits everyone and all children have a right to learn with their peers, Julie successfully integrated English Language Learners into their neighborhood schools and led collaborative efforts to develop a district-wide philosophy of inclusion. She worked closely with educators and her team to increase the number of co-teachers, improve the quality of professional development and staffing, and put new inclusionary practices in place. Together, Julie and the Taunton school community created one of the first district-wide models of inclusion in the state. In 2015, Dr. Hackett was named a Community Partnership Award Winner by the Federation of Children with Special Needs.
Dr. Hackett’s leadership has resulted in dramatic student performance gains. During her tenure, Taunton attained the highest graduates (93%) and lowest dropout rates in its history (less than 1%). The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recognized Taunton for a 67% reduction in the dropout rate (from 2007 to 2014). Under Julie’s leadership, Taunton has closed the achievement gap between African American and White students at a rate two to three times faster than the State average. The district’s college enrollment rate jumped by more than ten percentage points and economically disadvantaged students now go to college at a rate higher than their peers across Massachusetts, as do students who are English Language Learners. The college-going rates for black and Hispanic students are significantly higher and both surpass that of their white peers and their counterparts across the state. What makes these gains even more impressive is that Taunton is a City with less than 19% of its residents holding a Bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to nearly 40% in the nation and close to 50% in Massachusetts.
Julie believes that collaboration and her focus on strengthening superintendent-school board relationships have enabled her to tackle increasingly complex leadership challenges successfully. She recently completed her second book, Building Relationships, Yielding Results: How Superintendents Can Work with School Boards to Create Productive Teams, published by Harvard Education Press in 2015. Dr. Hackett frequently presents at state and national conferences, sharing her ideas on how superintendents and school boards can work together to build meaningful relationships focused on improving student performance. In her spare time, Julie enjoys writing and traveling to new places with her husband, Frank, and their sons, Parker and Cameron.
Dr. D’Ette W. Devine is in her forty-second year in public education with the Cecil County Public Schools, the system where she received her own education. In 2010, she was appointed as Superintendent of Schools and was re-appointed to a second term in 2014. Dr. Devine has been a highly successful world languages teacher, high school assistant principal, high school principal, executive director, chief negotiator, and associate superintendent for administrative services prior to accepting the position of superintendent. After graduating from Elkton High School, she earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland in College Park, and both her master’s and doctoral degrees in educational leadership from the University of Delaware. Her dissertation was nominated for the George Herbert Ryden Prize in the Social Sciences.
Dr. Devine has been an education leader across the State of Maryland and is currently serving as President of the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland (PSSAM). She has held leadership positions in the Eastern Shore of Maryland Education Consortium, the Maryland Negotiation Service, and served as Co-Chair of the State Board’s Committee on Discipline. She was appointed to the P-20 Education Leadership Council by the Governor in 2014 where she continues to serve.
In 2014, Dr. Devine received the Athena Women in Leadership Award in recognition of her extraordinary influence on the Cecil County community and was recently awarded the Maryland School Safety Superintendent of the Year by the Maryland Center for School Safety.
Tim Doak has been with the Eastern Aroostook RSU 39 since 2015 and MSAD No 20 since July 1 where he serves as Superintendent of Schools for both school systems. Prior to being promoted to MSAD No 27 Superintendent of Schools in 2010, Tim served as the principal of Community High School in Fort Kent for seven years. He was also named President of the Maine Principals’ Association in 2007-2008 where he held various positions within the association on both the Interscholastic Management Committee, and Professional Management Committee from 1995 to 2010, including the Resolution Committee, Eligibility Committee, and Ski Committee. Before being employed by MSAD No. 27, Mr. Doak was Superintendent of Schools, Principal, Assistant Principal, as well as a Classroom Teacher for the Madawaska School Department. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from the University of Maine at Presque Isle, a Masters degree in Secondary Education from the University of Maine, and holds a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Educational Leadership from University of Southern Maine. Mr. Doak also attended the Leadership Maine: Education sponsored by Maine Development Foundation in 2014 and 2015. Mr. Doak currently serves on the University of Maine at Presque Isle Foundation Board, the education representative for Mobilizing Northern Maine Committee; he serves on the Education to Industry Committee for Aroostook County, and serves on the advisor group for Northern Maine Medical Center Board of Trustees. Additionally, Mr. Doak served as the President of the Aroostook County Superintendents Association; Mr. Doak served on the University of Maine at Fort Kent Board of Visitors for 2012-2015, Mr. Doak was the chair for the Northern Maine Educational Collaborative, and an Adjunct Professor in Education at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. He resides in Fort Kent, Maine with his wife Kathy and two children Lauren and Logan.
Jeanice Kerr Swift, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Ann Arbor Public Schools
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Jeanice Kerr Swift, Ph.D. is a lifetime educator, having served thirty years as classroom teacher, teacher coach, principal, and school district administrator. She has served as Superintendent of Schools in the Ann Arbor Public Schools since August, 2013. Under Dr. Swift’s leadership in Ann Arbor Public Schools, enrollment has increased significantly, exciting new programs are opened in schools, achievement is improved, and top-quality arts programming continues to thrive. In addition, critical measures of District strength, such as enrollment trajectory and fund equity stability are improved. Dr. Swift works as a passionate advocate for children, believing each child’s unique talents should be leveraged to meet high expectations for learning and ensure success beyond graduation.
Prior to moving to Ann Arbor, Jeanice Swift served Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, Curriculum, and Student Services in Colorado Springs School District 11. Dr. Swift delights in working alongside teachers, support staff, and leaders to improve student performance and organizational outcomes. She has long been passionate about the arts, having served as principal of a performing arts school and discovering, through personal experience, the power of the arts to positively transform students, schools, and communities.
Jeanice Swift earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education, with a major in English and a minor in Spanish, at the University of Texas, Arlington. She earned a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Colorado and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership at the University of Denver.
Dr. Swift believes that every child deserves to be fully welcomed and embraced at school and receive the support to succeed within a rich, exploratory, arts-infused education. She is committed to engaging with the Ann Arbor community to further extend and enhance the excellence for which Ann Arbor Public Schools has long been known across Michigan and around the world.
Deb Henton followed a non-traditional path into the field of education. She earned her B.S. in Social Studies from the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, an M.A. in Education, Administrative Licensure, and Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. During this time, Deb worked as a junior and senior high school social studies teacher and assistant principal in the South Washington County school district where she was named Woodbury’s 1995 Teacher of the Year. She later served as an assistant principal at Stillwater Area High school and Harding High school where she was principal for five years before being promoted to St. Paul’s Executive Director of Alternative Learning Programs. While principal of Harding, Deb was named the 2004 MASSP Capitol Division Principal of the Year. In 2006, Deb was appointed the Chief of Staff for Saint Paul Public Schools. Her primary responsibility was developing the district’s five year strategic plan. In 2007, Deb began serving as the Superintendent of North Branch Area Public Schools where she has worked the past ten years. She holds a number of leadership positions in professional associations and is an advocate for equity for all students and public school education.
Dr. Stephen L. Kleinsmith became superintendent of Nixa Public Schools in July of 2000 after serving as Executive Director for Administrative Affairs for Millard Public Schools in Omaha, Nebraska. His focus as superintendent revolves around high expectations for himself and those he serves, effective communication, real world relevance, promoting creativity, responsible risk-taking, and continual collaboration involving home, school, local and the global community. Dr. Kleinsmith believes results of educational excellence are worth the investment. These beliefs help Dr. Kleinsmith and the community take the appropriate steps towards the district's motto of “excellence in action”.
During his 17 years as superintendent of Nixa Public Schools, Dr. Kleinsmith has collectively helped foster many successful programs such as:
-MSBA’s Outstanding Board of Education Award for School Finance (2015); Early Childhood Education Program of the Year (2013) as well as numerous Governance Team Awards.
-The state’s top accreditation standard, Accredited with Distinction for fifteen consecutive years... until accreditation standards were discontinued.
-Nixa Public Schools ranked 18th in the state (out of 522 school districts) as the best place to teach in Missouri...first in Southwest Missouri, by the Niche, a national K-12 ranking website (2015).
-3 Gold Star (State) Awards and 2 Blue Ribbon (National) Awards.
-Nine-time recipient of the Missouri School Boards’ Association's Education Governance/Leadership Team Program of Excellence Award.
-Nixa Public Schools student body has grown by 68% since 2000.
-Nixa Public Schools partnered with STEM.org to become the first traditional public elementary school in the state of Missouri to receive STEM Accreditation at John Thomas School of Discovery.
-Nixa continues to perform well above the state average on state assessments.
Dr. Kleinsmith, or Dr. K as he has become known, has enjoyed a career in education spanning over 37 years. Dr. K worked towards his B.A. degree in education while playing baseball for both Creighton University and Wayne State College. He then continued on to receive his M.S. and Ed. S. in School Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Dr. K earned his Ed.D from the University of South Dakota, 12 years into his career. Dr. K has been a graduate assistant, a teacher, a coach, a K-8 principal, a junior/senior high principal, a director of secondary education, an assistant to the superintendent, executive director for administrative affairs and superintendent throughout his tenure in education.
As a result of his dedicated service to the students and his community, Dr. K has been recognized at both the state and national level for numerous accomplishments:
-The Leadership Through Communications National Award, presented by the School Superintendents Association and the National School Public Relations Association, only one award is given per year to schools in Canada and the United States (2014).
-The Nixa Education Foundation’s Educational Achievement Award (2011)
-Springfield Business Journal’s Inaugural Men of the Year Award (2011)
-The Robert L. Pearce Award, presented by the Missouri Association of School Administrators (2010)
-The Missourian Award (2010)
-MO PTA Distinguished Service Award (2005)
-The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Distinguished Alumni Award (2000)
-Outstanding Service Award, presented by the American Association of School Administrators (1997)
-The Secondary Principal of the Year for Northwest Iowa (1993)
Dr. Kleinsmith has been invited to present at state and national conferences such as:
-25th Annual Model Schools Conference, Presenter - (One of only 12 school districts selected nation-wide) International Center for Leadership in Education, Nashville, TN, June 25-28, (2017)
-American Association of School Administrators,“Making Effective Communication a Priority Builds Trust, Engagement and Success for School and Community” Nashville, TN (2014)
-Missouri School Board Association Summit, “Administrative Leadership Development” and “Foundational Principles from the Governance, Leadership and Accountability” (2012)
Dr. K is regularly called upon by the media at the local, state and national level for his innovative, progressive opinions and strategic planning in education and leadership:
-“Award-Winning Emphasizes Transparency Through Communication”, Newsletter Article, Board and Administrator, National Publication (2014)
-“Superintendent Bucks Average Tenure Trend with these 5 Strategies”, Newsletter Article, Board and Administrator, National Publication (2014)
-“Hindsight: Lessons Learned from the Joplin Tornado”, Collaborator and Author of Chapter 10, “Why Do You Need a Communication Program?” (2013)
-“Lessons Learned from Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting”, Newsletter Article, Board and Administrator, National Publication (2013)
-Fox News, Fox and Friends, guest interview, “Healthy Hungry Kids Act” (2010)
Dr. Kleinsmith has had the opportunity to serve in leadership positions that would create a brighter future for the communities in which he lives:
-Springfield Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
-Least of These, Christian County Food Pantry Board of Directors
- Chairman of Ozarks Educational Research Institute
-Treasure for Committee for Educational Equality
-Chairman of the Board for the Greater Ozarks Chapter of the American Red Cross
-Chairman of the Board for the Nixa Community Foundation
-Chairman of the Board for the Nixa Area Chamber of Commerce
-Board of Directors for United Way of the Ozarks
-Legislative Co-Chair for the Association of School Administrators
-Lifetime member of Optimist International
Dr. Kleinsmith is married to Kari, who is a counselor at Nixa High School. They have two sons- Elijah, a graduate of Missouri State University, who works as a digital producer in Kansas City. Son Jacob, a senior at Nixa High School, plans to attend the University of Central Missouri after graduation with a major in theater education. Dr. Kleinsmith enjoys making memories with his wife and sons and playing golf with his friends and family.
Dr. Barry Amacker has been an educator for 43 years with experience as a band director, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent. In the Jackson County School District, he has served as principal of St. Martin High School, Assistant Superintendent over the St. Martin Attendance Area, and is currently serving in his 10th year as Superintendent of Education. Prior to coming to Jackson County School District in 2000, he served 13 years as a middle and high school band director and 13 years as an administrator in the Mobile County School District in Alabama.
As a graduate of Moss Point High School, he continued his education at the University of South Alabama where he earned his Bachelors and Masters Degrees. In 2001, he earned his Doctorate of Education from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
He has been recognized as Mobile County Public School System’s Teacher of the Year by the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and St. Martin Attendance Area Administrator of the Year by the Jackson County School District. He has also served as Chairman of the South Mississippi High School Principals’ Consortium, Chairperson of the Gulf Coast Education Initiative Consortium, Board of Directors for Mississippi Association of School Superintendents and serves on the Board of Directors for United Way Jackson County.
In addition, Dr. Amacker has taught at the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of South Alabama as an adjunct instructor, and he and his wife, Kathy, teach a parenting seminar entitled “Parenting without Fear.” They have also served as music ministers in their church.
Dr. Amacker has authored and published two books, These Old Shoes and Power to Press On. He and Kathy have a daily radio program Power to Press On that admonishes and encourages listeners to develop physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
He and Kathy have been married 44 years and have two children and three grandchildren.
Tammy Lacey is the Superintendent of Schools for Great Falls Public Schools (GFPS) in Great Falls, Montana. GFPS is the second largest school district in Montana and third largest employer in Great Falls. She is a native Montanan and has spent most of her life in her hometown.
She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Montana in 1985 and went back to Great Falls to teach first and third grades. After 5 years in the classroom she was selected as the District’s first ever Teacher on Special Assignment, an educator coaching model that still exists today. During those five years, Tammy completed her Master’s degree from the University of Montana in Educational Leadership. At the too young age of 28, Fairfield Public Schools, a small rural school district west of Great Falls, hired Tammy as their K-8 principal, athletic director, special education director, technology director, etc. To this day, Tammy has the utmost respect for rural administrators and the many hats they wear. Due to her efforts in furthering technology and academic achievement in Fairfield, she was selected as Montana’s National Distinguished Principal by the Montana Association of Elementary and Middle School Principals in 1999. Accepting that honor in Washington DC is one of the highlights of Tammy’s career.
After eight years in Fairfield, she returned to Great Falls and served as an elementary principal, human resources director, and now superintendent. Another career highlight is her eight years as principal at Loy Elementary School where she served the students and families of Malmstrom Air Force Base.
Tammy works for all Montanans through her efforts as a member of the Montana Board of Public Education, as a member of the Montana Council on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, the Montana College and Career Standards Commission, and the Special Olympics Educational Leadership Committee. She has also served on the Montana Special Education Advisory Board.
She has been recognized for her work with student wellness, educational leadership, community engagement, and her commitment to fellow citizens. She is a member of the Great Falls Lions Club and serves on a variety of boards and commissions to include the Cascade City-County Board of Health, the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Board, the Great Falls Development Authority Board and the University of Providence Great Falls Board of Trustees.
In her 33rd year as an educator in Montana, Tammy is thankful for an incredible support team to include her Cabinet members and dedicated trustees. She loves her job as the 10th GFPS Superintendent of Schools and looks forward to the many celebrations and challenges each day brings. Besides spending time in schools and at community events, Tammy enjoys golfing, skiing, reading and enjoying family and friends.
Since 2010, Dr. Janet Harmon Mason has served as the superintendent of Rutherford County Schools (RCS), an innovative school district located in western North Carolina. The 18 Rutherford County Schools serve approximately 8,300 Preschool – 12th grade students. The district has received state and national recognition for its efforts to provide high quality educational opportunities to students that match or surpass educational services found in any other community.
Under Dr. Mason’s leadership, the district launched the Going G.L.O.B.A.L. (Growing Learning Opportunities Beyond All Limits) initiative in 2011 that included providing laptop computers for all middle school and high school students, as well as all certified staff. The program was expanded in 2015 to provide iPad carts for all K-4 classrooms and MacBook carts for 5th grade classrooms. Rutherford County Schools has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished Education Program (2012-2017) and as one of ten North Carolina Innovator in Digital Learning programs in 2012. In 2017, Dr. Mason was awarded the Friday Medal for Educational Innovation and was selected as the North Carolina Region 8 Superintendent of the Year.
The district has made early college access a priority as evidenced by the success of the Rutherford Early College High School (REaCH), a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School that boasts a 100% cohort graduation rate for seven consecutive years. Following that standard of excellence, the three traditional RCS high schools have been redesigned to allow students to engage in curriculum pathways that lead to an associate's degree or other postsecondary certifications. The opportunity to earn college credit or degrees while in high school has been especially meaningful to the many first-generation college students in a community where unemployment and poverty rates have been among the highest in the state for over a decade. The results clearly indicate the innovative strategies are producing positive outcomes for the community as the cohort graduation rate has shown steady improvement, moving from a baseline of 67.1% in 2010 to 85% in 2017, and the annual dropout rate has decreased to the lowest documented rate in the history of Rutherford County Schools.
After graduating from Appalachian State University in 1986, Dr. Mason began her career in the Rutherford County Schools as a high school math teacher. She continued her education, earning a Master of Education degree in 1988, an Education Specialist degree in 2001, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Western Carolina University in May 2010. After teaching for 16 years, she served as a middle school assistant principal, a high school principal, the director of secondary curriculum, and as the assistant superintendent prior to her appointment as superintendent.
Active in educational leadership and advocacy for public education, Dr. Mason has represented Region 8 on the executive board of the North Carolina Association of School Superintendents since 2012. She served as the chairperson of the Region 8 Superintendents’ Council in 2016-2017 and was selected as the NC Region 8 Superintendent of the Year. Dr. Mason represented North Carolina superintendents on the governing board of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) from 2012 until 2017 when she was elected to represent the 13 states of Region 5 on the AASA Executive Committee. She previously served on the advisory boards for the North Carolina Virtual Public School and the North Carolina Digital Learning Plan.
Dr. Mason actively pursues opportunities to increase her leadership capacity by engaging in ongoing professional development and learning experiences. Since completing North Carolina’s Next Generation Superintendents Development Program in 2014, she has served as one of the program’s three thought partners for other superintendents in the program. Dr. Mason successfully completed the NC Digital Leadership Institute for Superintendents in 2016 and the UNC School of Government Leaders for the 21st Century program in 2017. She has served in advisory roles related to academic program development and compliance at both Western Carolina University and Gardner-Webb University.
Engaged in her community, Dr. Mason serves on the board of directors for the Rutherford County Schools Education Foundation and the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Forest City Kiwanians. She has been a trustee of the Robert and Janice McNair Educational Foundation since 2010. She currently serves as a McNair Mentor for 15 East Rutherford Middle and High School students, meeting with each student regularly to discuss academic performance, career interests, and progress toward high school graduation and college entrance requirements.
Dr. Mason is a Rutherford County native and graduate of East Rutherford High School. To celebrate the gift of life and her 50th birthday, she trained and completed two half-marathons and two marathons in two years with a fabulous group of running buddies. She resides in Forest City, North Carolina with her husband, Rick Mason, and their three dogs, Kacy, Sophie, and Little Bear. Their daughter, Meredith, is also a proud alumna of East Rutherford High School, a Park Scholar and 2017 graduate of North Carolina State University, and currently lives and teaches 3rd grade in Raleigh, NC.
I was born in Bismarck, ND in April of 1965. My family moved to Walhalla, ND when I was two weeks old. I am the 5th child out of 8children; I have four brother and three sisters. My dad owned a construction company and farmed. I spent much of my early years helping out on the farm and later on the construction business. I attended elementary school at St. Boniface Catholic School in Walhalla and graduated Walhalla Public School in 1983.
After graduating from high school, I attended Dickinson State College in Dickinson, ND. I graduated from college in 1988 with a BS in Teaching (Social Sciences and Math). In 1992, I graduated from the University of Wyoming (Laramie, WY) and received an MA in Educational Administration. In 2001, I graduated from Montana State University (Bozeman, MT) with a Doctor of Education in School Administration. My first teaching position was in Ashland, MT. I taught for five years before becoming the high school principal in Ashland. Later I was the principal in Shepherd, MT. In 1997, I became the superintendent at Whitehall, MT (enrollment 650 students). After 12 years in Montana, I decided it was time to move closer to home. In 2000, I moved to Grafton, ND as the superintendent (enrollment 1000 students). I have also been the superintendent at Dickinson, ND (2600 students), the Centennial School District in Lino Lakes, MN (6700 students). After spending time in western North Dakota and in Minnesota, I again felt a need to move home and accepted the position of superintendent in my home town of Walhalla at the North Border School District (450 students).
When I was in Shepherd, MT I worked closely with the superintendent (Mr. Cal Spangler). He got me started in school finance was a mentor to me in all areas. I will be forever indebted to him.
While at Grafton, I was part of a lawsuit against the State of North Dakota for inadequate and inequitable funding for school districts. As a result of the lawsuit, the Sate agreed to enact a new funding formula bringing about more equity for school districts. I have been intimately involved in the financing of PK-12 school ever since. When I moved to Minnesota, it was with a school district that wanted to force the equity issue in Minnesota. However, shortly after accepting the job, the State Minnesota went into an economic downturn which made it very difficult to bring about changes in the funding formula.
I have always been recognized for my knowledge of the funding formulas, but I am most proud of the academic achievements made at the schools where I have worked. North Border has been recognized by Niche.com as the best school district in North Dakota in 2015 and 2016.
On a personal level, I married my girlfriend of over 11 years in 2014. We have one granddaughter who just turned one in September.
Dr. John Skretta is superintendent of the Norris School District in Firth, NE, and the President-Elect of the Nebraska Association of School Administrators. His district has been widely recognized for incorporating physical activity and integrating a coordinated school health approach, from an award-winning Grab & Go Breakfast program to a PTO Fun-Run fundraiser, to hosting health fairs and incorporating standardized fitness testing for its students. Dr. Skretta is a member of the Nebraska School Board Association’s Whole Child Project Board of Directors, has worked on the Nebraska Medical Association’s Childhood Obesity Task Force, and has testified before the Nebraska legislature on numerous children’s health-related initiatives. He was a member of the AASA Coordinated School Health Superintendent Cadre, and served on the Midwest Dairy Health & Wellness Advisory Council. Dr. Skretta has been recognized by the Alliance For A Healthier Generation as a Healthy Schools Champion, honored by Leadership For Healthy Communities, and participated in the national rollout of the Let’s Move Active Schools program. He was recognized in 2010 by Fitness Magazine as a “Champion of Health and Fitness.” His district is currently participating in a federal PEP grant to promote physical activity and improved nutrition through fruit and vegetable consumption. Dr. Skretta earned his doctorate from the University of Nebraska Lincoln and has won an NU Alumni Association Alumni Achievement Award. He is an avid marathoner who has completed numerous ultramarathons ranging from 50K to 50 miles, his most recent being a sub-four hour finish in the Lincoln Marathon in 2017.
|Dr. James C. Morse, Sr.||NH||
Dr. James C. Morse, Sr.
Born in Oak Ridge, TE, where my father, a US Naval Academy graduate, worked in the atomic labs.
Most of my childhood was spent in southeastern part of Pennsylvania.
While in school, I participated in sports, particularly swimming and softball.
Went to East Stroudsburg University and received a Bachelors of Science degree in secondary education, social studies. Received my Masters of Education degree from Arcadia University, and Doctorate of Education degree from Widener University.
While a teacher, I coached several middle school sports and high school girls' swimming. I served as an advisor for Student Council. I also chaired the School District's Professional Development Committee and served on many curriculum committees for both the school and the district.
I was the first female assistant principal and principal of an alternative school in the Norristown Area School District. During that time period, I expanded the program to include students in grades 1-8 with oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorders, included at-risk students in grades 8-12, provided a program for expelled students, provided day care for parenting teens, and expanded the vocational program for the students.
I am the first female Superintendent for the Ocean City School District and first female president for the Cape May County Superintendents Association.
Married with four children.
When relaxing, I like to sew, knit and paint as well as follow my son's travel as he rides his bike through Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
Born 5/27/1960 in rural Catron County. Grew up and worked on a 500 section cattle ranch that my father managed, along with our family ranch as a teenager. Played football, basketball and ran track in high school. Also participated in high school rodeo and judged in FFA competitions. Was student council president.
Married for 39 years to high school sweetheart (Dawn Rae). Have four children, 3 sons (Mike, Rowdy and Cody) and 1 daughter (Shea). Have 8 grandchildren
Involved in education since 1986, superintendent since 2000.
Taught elementary classes (5th and 6th grades), Special Education (all grade levels), P.E., Social Studies and shop classes at jr. high and high school levels.
Coached football, volleyball, basketball and track.
Worked in three school districts - Quemado, Ruidoso and Reserve
Still live and work on the family ranch (when time permits!)
Pat Skorkowsky has spent the past 29 years as an educator in the Clark County School District. He has served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, academic manager, deputy superintendent, and currently as superintendent.
Skorkowsky began his career as a first-grade teacher at C. C. Ronnow Elementary School in 1988, after moving to Las Vegas straight from Oklahoma upon graduating. It was there that he developed the teaching philosophy that today drives the nation’s fifth-largest school district: The belief that we can reach “every student in every classroom, without exceptions, without excuses.”
Since he began his tenure as Superintendent in June 2013, Skorkowsky has outlined an ambitious and aggressive agenda to improve academic outcomes for every student in the District, “The Pledge of Achievement,” which can be found at PledgeofAchievement.com. He also outlined a District Scorecard, which measures the District’s progress on six important goals: increasing third-grade proficiency, increasing the graduation rate, reducing achievement gaps, increasing family engagement, ensuring student safety and happiness, and increasing student participation in career and technical and magnet programs.
Skorkowsky is an active member of the community, serving on the boards of several community organizations, including, the Discovery Children's Museum, the United Way of Southern Nevada, Jobs for Nevada’s Graduates, the Mob Museum, the Shakespeare Institute of Nevada, and the Jobs for America’s Graduates National Board. He was named the UNLV College of Education Alumni of the Year in 2013; he received the State PTA President's Special Award in 2014, the 2016 Jobs for America’s Graduates National Superintendent of the Year Award, and the Nevada Association of School Boards’ Superintendent of the Year Award for 2016, Nevada Association of School Superintendents Superintendent of the Year for 2017, and Magnet Schools of America National Superintendent of the Year for 2017.
He grew up in a small town in central Oklahoma, received his bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Oklahoma State University, and a master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In November 2013, Skorkowsky was named the UNLV Alumni of the Year for the College of Education.
Bob Ike is currently the superintendent of the Palmyra-Macedon Central School District, Palmyra, NY and has served in this role since 2007. He previously served as a superintendent in northern New York, was a Middle School Principal, and a middle-level social studies teacher. Dr. Ike has been distinguished as the New York State Middle School Principal of the Year and was recently honored by the Genesee Valley ASCD for Supervision and "outstanding work" and providing learning opportunities for the Genesee Valley, Monroe, and Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES regions.
He also serves on the Executive Committee of the New York State Council of School Superintendents and is proud to be a Rotarian. In addition to his leadership responsibilities as the superintendent at Pal-Mac, Dr. Ike holds the position of adjunct professor at the University of Rochester, is a leadership coach for the University’s Warner Center for Professional Development and Education Reform, and serves on the faculty for SUNY Oswego's Superintendent Development Program.
Dr. Ike and his wife, Joy, have three children: daughters, Charlie and Grace, and son and daughter-in-law, Nick (Cassandra). Dr. Ike enjoys spending time with family, being outdoors, and, with his wife, unofficially reviewing restaurants.
I entered education because of both the challenges I have faced in my life and the people who inspired me and supported me in overcoming those challenges. I have always believed education is more than a profession — it is a calling.
I grew up in poverty, and neither my parents nor my grandparents had attended college. At a very young age, I developed a severe stuttering problem, which would become a major part of my life story. In the early 1970s, speech services were not readily available in all schools, and I attended a poor rural school with little to offer in the way of special services.
School was challenging, and my stuttering led to a great deal of bullying that I largely kept to myself. I had difficulty learning, so when I had to take my first standardized test in first grade my parents were told that I had a learning disability and should be transferred to a special school. This school, my parents were told, could help me learn to read and develop the life skills that would allow me to live on my own and support myself through a job such as working at a restaurant.
Thankfully, my parents refused to agree to this change in placement and moved our family to a school district that could offer additional services. I began to learn to read, and by late in elementary school I was reading on grade level. I also received speech therapy and began to learn the strategies that I still use to this day to deal with my speech impediment.
Although my reading skills improved, the bullying continued through elementary and middle school because of my stuttering. In high school everything began to change when one teacher took the time to get to know me and mentor me. Mr. Morgan, my band director, told me I had a gift for leadership and could accomplish anything. He was the first person who saw something in me, and I responded to his encouragement and began to believe that I did have some special gifts. My confidence began to grow, which helped my stuttering and began to reduce the bullying.
Through Mr. Morgan’s guidance, I became the first member of my family to move away from home for college. I thrived during my first year away from home but then was told by my parents that there was not enough money to continue my education and I would have to return home to attend a local university, as my brother did, or find another way to fund my education. Determined to continue my education away from home, I joined the Army National Guard and paid for my final three years of college. My experience in the Army was transformational. I rose through the enlisted ranks and attended leadership training that informs my work to this day.
My story is the story of countless children who enter our school every day and simply need a caring adult to take an interest in them and believe in them. I chose to become a teacher, a principal and eventually a superintendent because I believe in the potential of each student and want to lead a school community that does everything possible to inspire every student to reach his or her full potential. I would not be a superintendent today without the special teachers who helped me learn to read and overcome my disability and Mr. Morgan, who believed in me more than I believed in myself. I am in their debt, and I have a responsibility to give back.
Don Raleigh is currently in his tenth year serving as superintendent of Pryor Public Schools. Dr. Raleigh is in his 30th year as an educator, serving in almost every role as a teacher, coach, and administrator in public schools. He holds a B.S. in Natural Sciences from Northwestern Oklahoma State University, an M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction from Oklahoma State University, and recently earned his Ed. D in School Administration from Oklahoma State University.
Dr. Raleigh has been named the OASA District 6 Superintendent of the Year three times (2017, 2015 & 2012) and is the 2017 OASA Oklahoma Superintendent of the Year.. He was also named the 2014 Oklahoma Administrator of the Year by the Oklahoma School Advisory Council. He has been honored as a 2006 Coke-Cola Joseph B. Whitehead Educator of Distinction and was inducted into the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014.
Besides serving on the Oklahoma Standards Setting Steering Committee, he also currently serves as a member of the Governor’s Education Advisory Committee, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction's Advisory committee and is the 2017 Chairman for the Oklahoma School Advisory Council. He is married to wife Angela Raleigh and has two children, son Trent Raleigh and daughter-in-law, Carolyn (and grandson Luke), and daughter Aubrey Ballard and son-in-law Michael.
|Karen Fischer Gray, Ed. D.||OR||
Dr. Karen Fischer Gray: Biography
I was born in 1957 in New York City, New York to Jewish parents and a Jewish family that kept the faith as far back as the eye could see on both sides. I have one sister older than me and I had a brother that passed away. We are immigrants from Russia and Poland in the 1930s and we lost many family members in the death camps during WWII. My mom and dad wanted a better life for us and moved us out of Brooklyn to Los Angeles where my father began work in the fledgling computer business. His first company was sold to Xerox. Later we moved back and forth between LA and Orange County because the Jews lived in LA but computer businesses were growing and booming in Orange County where there were very few Jewish people and God forbid we would marry outside our religion. My sister didn't but I did. Both divorced so who knows.
I graduated from Fountain Valley HS but also went half of the time to University HS (along with Michael Jackson) in West LA. I couldn't wait to get out and go to college and graduated a year early. I attended Cal State Fullerton and received my Bachelors and Masters in Communicative Disorders (Speech Pathology) as did my mother the year before me. She was a tough act to follow! My sister also has a Masters Degree in Music and a Masters Degree in Special Education. We come from a long line of teachers. This was 1980 and 1982. I became a special education teacher from 1980 to 1990 at Fullerton Union HS. I started at 22. I married at 18 and divorced exactly 20 years later.
In 1990, we moved our family to Coos Bay, Oregon in order to stay connected to a large group of friends we had developed and in order to be able to eventually afford to purchase a home-something no ordinary teacher could do in Orange County--you still can't. My husband was an artist and we had three children, Joshua, Joseph and Sharon Rose. We had 5 acres and a mule, not really, we had 5 acres and 3 horses, sheep, rabbits, dogs and barn cats. It was a handful but I loved it. I also rode horses with Coos County Sheriffs Department with my eldest son who was also a genius at rodeo. This was a very different life than that of a Brooklyn girl.
From 1990 to 1992 I was a speech therapist with the South Coast ESD and I worked in Bandon, Coos Bay and North Bend. In 1992, Coos Bay SD swept me away and I went to work for Marshfield HS and the Coos Bay SD for the next 15 years. In 1996 I became an administrator and started my doctoral program at the University of Oregon and received that degree in 2005 all the while traveling between Coos Bay and Eugene. In the meantime, Joshua married his wife of the last 15 years Jennifer and I happily became a grandmother 3 times with my wonderful grandchildren Micah, McKenzie and Judah. In 2014, I welcomed my 4th grandchild through my daughter and her now deceased husband, the glorious Allie Rose who is about to turn 3.
In Coos Bay, I was an assistant principal, high school principal, Director of Student Services and last, Superintendent of that school district. In 2007 all my kids moved to either Eugene or Portland and I was recruited to be superintendent of the Parkrose SD. I have been in Parkrose SD ever since. It has been my privilege to serve as the Parkrose School District Superintendent for the last 10 years now starting my 11th. I have been a City of Portland Planning and Sustainability Commissioners for 5 years (ended in 2015) and have served on many, many committees, boards and councils but nothing can compare to being superintendent. This is going into my 38th year in education.
It is my privilege to be named Oregon's 2018 Superintendent of the Year. Go Broncos!!
Karen Fischer Gray, Ed. D.
Michael S. Snell, Ed.D., is Superintendent of Central York School District, a K-12 public school district serving 5,800 students in grades K-12. He has held the position since 2009.
Dr. Snell received his Doctor of Education in Educational Administration from Temple University and his Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the same university. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education/Social Studies from Kutztown University.
Dr. Snell is a member of the American Association of School Administrators, the National Council of Educational Research and Technology and the Urban Superintendent’s Association of America.
Dr. Snell joined Central York School District as Assistant Superintendent in 2007. Prior to that time, Dr. Snell served as Assistant Superintendent of West York Area School District from 2003 through 2007; Principal of West York Area Middle School from 1998-2003; and Assistant Principal in the Hempfield School District from 1994-1998. He taught social studies and civics locally from 1989-1994.
In addition to his professional affiliations, Dr. Snell is involved in several community activities throughout York County. He serves on the Board of Directors of the York County Economic Alliance and the Advisory Board of the Byrnes Health Education Center.
Dr. Snell recently published a book titled: Clockwork: Time-Saving Routines and Tested Strategies for Success and consults with school leaders and teams interested in improving organization and leadership and has presented on this topic regionally.
Mass Customized Learning Resources & Information
MCL Blog: http://www.cysdecosystem.com
MCL Website: http://int.cysd.k12.pa.us/CentralYork/MCL/
MCL Ecosystem: http://int.cysd.k12.pa.us/CentralYork/ECOSYSTEM/
Mrs. Karen Tarasevich, Superintendent of the West Warwick Public Schools, has been chosen as the 2018 Rhode Island Superintendent of the Year. Her selection by the Rhode Island School Superintendents' Association (RISSA) was announced at its General Membership Meeting on August 16, 2017. The ovation accorded to Mrs.Tarasevich by her colleagues was an indication of the high esteem in which she is held. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in school district leadership, dedication to the education of all children, commitment to the community, and service to RISSA.
Mrs. Tarasevich has served as the Superintendent in West Warwick since 2013. She previously served as the high school principal in West Warwick. Prior to that she served as the Associate Principal of Secondary Schools in West Warwick, and she was a middle school and high school English teacher in Narragansett, Rhode Island.
Karen was recognized by President Obama at the White House in November 2014 for West Warwick Public School’s commitment to Future Ready learning and technology integration in education (one of 100 Superintendents chosen nationally).
Karen served as a presenter at the Rhode IslandI Innovation Technology Conference in 2014, 2015 and 2016. She has served on the Ridley Lowell Technical Institute Advisory Board since 2014 and was the keynote speaker at the Institute’s inaugural graduation. Recognized for exemplar practice, she was invited to present at the National Conference on Labor/Management Partnerships in Washington, DC in September of 2015. U.S. Department of Education Secretary, John King, and Governor Gina Raimondo visited West Warwick High School in December of 2016 when West Warwick High School was chosen as a model example of computer science programming and implementation. Karen is the author of “Blended learning in West Warwick and the Rewards of Reaching 1:1 Ratio” published in the Blended Chronicle, 2016.
Under her leadership, the district has taken on numerous initiatives. They increased the graduation rate by 19% in four years. Students make consistent gains in standardized testing scores in English Language Arts and Mathematics. They implemented an intensive Dropout Prevention Initiative and transition program for at risk students. They created a proficiency based summer school and engaged in credit retrieval and ramp up opportunities for students. They implemented Lab Classrooms across the district and West Warwick students received state and national recognition from NEEDS Science Renewable Energy Association and SKILLS USA.
Karen has been an active member of RISSA serving as Secretary, Executive Committee member since 2013. She currently serves as the Vice-President of RISSA.
Mrs. Tarasevich received her Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education with a minor in English from the University of Rhode Island. She received her Master’s degree from Providence College in School Administration.
Karen and her husband Paul reside in South Kingstown, Rhode Island with their children Paul and Joe. She is a lifelong Rhode Island resident. Karen is beginning her 18th year in education and her 5th year as Superintendent of Schools.
|W. Burke Royster||SC||
W. Burke Royster, Ph.D., became the 10th Superintendent of Greenville County Schools, the 44th largest district in the nation, in 2012. A 38-year veteran of public education, his tenure as Superintendent has been marked by significant advances in student achievement, with a particular focus on improving the District’s graduation rate and ensuring that students are college and career ready. In a nod to the progress achieved under his direction, Dr. Royster was named an Education Week Leader to Learn From in February of 2017, was one of Greenville Business Journal’s 50 Most Influential in 2017, and in May of 2017 was named 2018 Superintendent of the Year by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators and the South Carolina Association of Athletic Administrators.
In 2014, GCS earned its first absolute rating of Excellent on the State Report Card and 97.7 percent of schools earned absolute ratings of Excellent, Good or Average. When the ratings were announced, Dr. Royster noted, “The improvement in our report rating mirrors enhancements across the district in instructional delivery, student engagement, and rigor. It also reflects the extremely supportive and visionary leadership of our Board of Trustees and the commitment and dedication of our principals, teachers, administrators, and staff. Equally important, this Excellent Rating reinforces our belief that Greenville County Schools is a national leader in innovation, collaboration, and career and college readiness."
The signature initiative of Dr. Royster’s tenure is Graduation Plus, and is the key ingredient in the District’s focus on “Building a Better Graduate.” Graduation Plus is a framework for increasing student achievement and engagement that provides meaningful opportunities for every student to graduate with a South Carolina state diploma, plus industry certifications and/or college credit. A hallmark of this initiative is increasing opportunities for high school credit at the middle school level so that ample space is available in students’ high school schedules to pursue areas of interest and potential career focuses ranging from cosmetology certification to the completion of freshman-level engineering coursework through the Accelerate Engineering virtual program. In combination with traditional academic coursework, these additional opportunities help ensure students develop the skills, knowledge, and characteristics necessary for success in the post-secondary world.
As a direct result of his initiatives, the Greenville County Schools’ graduation rate has risen 15 points since 2012 and is currently at 87%. During the same period, the graduation rate for the African-American subgroup has risen 20 points (82%), the subsidized meals subgroup is up 19 points, and the Hispanic subgroup has improved 21 points to 88%, which is one-point higher than the overall student body. Additionally, since restructuring our special education service model to a more inclusive culture, the graduation rate among students with disabilities has climbed 21 percentage points and the passage rate for disabled students on the State’s End of Course Exam Program (EOCEP) has increased 10 percent in English and 17 percent in history.
Another important program launched during Royster’s tenure is the OnTrack initiative in partnership with the United Way, Furman University, and other agencies. Funded initially by a federal Social Innovation Fund (SIF) grant in combination with local dollars, OnTrack focuses on three low-income middle schools in one of Greenville’s most depressed areas, and uses an Early Warning and Response (EWP) software system to flag students when attendance, behavior, or course performance (the OnTrack A,B,Cs) begins to cause concern. Once flagged, a team comprised of teachers, social workers, administrators, and school counselors convene to determine the root of the student’s problems. Through partnerships with local social service agencies and other non-profits, the OnTrack team can identify wraparound supports that assist with problems ranging from homelessness and hunger to mental illness, addiction, and other issues that lead to transiency and instability. The goal of OnTrack is to address the root causes of disengagement and stress so students are free to focus on learning, continue their education, and break the cycle of poverty.
The belief that all decisions should be based on what is best for students, along with efforts to expand targeted instructional supports and move toward large-scale implementation of engaging practices such as those associated with project based learning, characterize Royster’s educational philosophy. Though decisions and policies must be written for the good of the whole and implemented in a fair and equitable manner, Royster encourages teachers, administrators, and support staff to never lose sight of students’ individual circumstances, gifts, and challenges. Education, in his mind, is more of a calling or purpose than it is a job. He emphasizes at every opportunity that nothing has a greater impact on student learning than the quality of the teacher in the classroom and nothing has a greater effect on teacher quality than school administrators.
As Deputy Superintendent in Greenville County Schools, Royster was a key architect in developing the District’s Long Range Facilities and Capital Improvement planning process. Through his leadership, a process for assessing demographic trends, population shifts, in- and out-migration, and economic and real estate development was developed and used to annually update a Long Range Facilities Plan and Capital Improvement Plan with the goal of carefully maintaining the school district’s physical plant and identifying sound financial strategies for meeting future building needs.
Royster began his career in 1980 as a teacher and coach at Starr-Iva Middle School in Anderson School District Three and joined Greenville County Schools for the first time in 1983 as assistant principal of Monaview Middle School. He then served as an assistant principal at Northwestern High School in Rock Hill School District Three and assumed his first principalship in 1990 as the inaugural leader of Waccamaw High School in the Georgetown County School District.
He returned to Upstate South Carolina in 1994 to serve as principal of Seneca High School in Oconee County Schools and assumed his first district-level position in 1999 as an assistant superintendent in that school district. He rejoined Greenville County Schools in 2005 as deputy superintendent for operations and became the district’s sole deputy when he assumed additional leadership responsibilities for the instructional division in 2011.
Various community boards benefit from Royster’s participation, including The Greenville Chamber of Commerce, The United Way, Greenville Technical College Area Commission, and Public Education Partners. A graduate of Leadership Greenville, Royster is also actively involved with Ten at the Top, an organization that promotes partnerships and cooperation to improve the Upstate’s economic vitality and quality of life. In addition to his service on local boards, Royster is member of the American and South Carolina Associations of School Administrators and is President-elect of the Executive Committee of the Superintendents’ Division of the South Carolina School Administrators Association. He is also has membership in Phi Delta Kappa, the Horace Mann League, Association for Learning Environments (formerly Council of Educational Facilities Planners), the National Association of School Business Officials, and the South Carolina Athletic Administrators Association.
The son of former Anderson County District Five Superintendent Dr. William B. Royster and his wife, Betty, Royster grew up in Anderson County, South Carolina, and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Clemson University. He also holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policies from the University of South Carolina. Royster is married to the former Tina Stephenson, who is retired from banking.
W. Burke Royster
I have been the Superintendent at the Lead-Deadwood School District since 2005. Prior to this, I served as the Principal at Spearfish High School for five years. I was also as an Assistant Principal at Spearfish HS and T.F. Riggs HS in Pierre. I taught German and Social Studies at Rapid City Central HS in SD, Tempe HS in Arizona, and Kimball HS in SD.
I also coached football and wrestling. My career in education has spanned 33 years.
I am married to Tracy and have two children, Taylor, 18, and Braeden, 16. We enjoy traveling, outdoor recreation, and watching old movies.
I’m active in the Lead and Deadwood Chambers of Commerce, Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center, Northern Hills Junior Achievement, Dakota Land Trust, Northern Hills Alliance for Children, Lead-Deadwood Community Foundation, Meals on Wheels, the Friends of South Dakota Public Broadcasting, the South Dakota School Superintendents Association, and the American Association of School Administrators.
Dr. Mike Winstead became the director of Maryville City Schools on January 1, 2014, after serving for six years as Assistant Director of Schools. During his short tenure as director, he has implemented iReach, a K-12 digital conversion model, hosted the first, regional CoSN technology conference, implemented the innovative Spotlight program to celebrate successes and honor teacher dedication and longevity, organized the K-12 Literacy Council with directives to implement a collaborative, multi-district motivational literacy project One Book Blitz, designed the first annual family engagement block party Rebel Ready, and developed a long range, balanced budget through creative funding, reallocations, and the creation of a new teacher and administrative salary scale. His positive attitude and approach to servant leadership has fostered unity and positive relationships and yielded outstanding student achievement and growth data, building an optimistic future for Maryville City Schools.
Prior to his arrival in Maryville, Winstead spent fourteen years in the Knox County School District serving as a teacher and administrator at both the school and district levels. Specifically, his experience and leadership focused on the accountability of student performance and growth data at the district level in Knox County has equipped him to be considered one of the data experts in the state of Tennessee. He currently serves on the TDOE Assessment Task Force and Accountability Work Group, collaborating with peers to improve Tennessee’s data and reporting systems.
His other outside influences include being a foundational member of the CoSN Empowered Superintendent Advisory Group, being hand-picked by Dr. Mark Edwards for his exemplary implementation of a 1:1 Digital Conversion Model in Maryville. This relationship and digital transformation has provided Dr. Winstead the opportunity to lead multiple presentations at national conferences, including CoSN, Score, TSBA Annual Convention, and Every Child, Every Day Conference.
Dr. Winstead holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Tennessee and a Master’s Degree from the College of Engineering at the University of Virginia. He is the son of retired educators who raised their family in East Tennessee. His wife, Sonya, is an educator and high school administrator in Loudon County Schools, and they have three grown children. Mike is active in his community, serving on the United Way Board of Directors and the Maryville Kiwanis. He enjoys playing board games and disc golf with his extended family and friends.
Dr. LaTonya Goffney was recently named the TASB Superintendent of the Year at the TASA/TASB conference held in Dallas, Texas. She has served as the Superintendent of Lufkin ISD since 2013. A native of Coldspring, Texas, Dr. Goffney began her career as a language arts teacher in Coldspring-Oakhurst Consolidated Independent School District. Additionally, she served as a campus and district administrator before serving as superintendent at Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD for five years. Dr. Goffney earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and English, a Master of Education degree in administration, and a Doctorate of Education degree in Educational Leadership, all from Sam Houston State University.
Other awards that she has received include the Margret A Montgomery Leadership Award by the Texas Council of Women School Executives, 2013 Distinguished Administrator of the Year Award selected by the faculty of Sam Houston State University College of Education, and she was selected as one of only 22 members of the 2012-2013 Class of Phi Delta Kappa International Emerging Leaders. The PDK Emerging Leaders program recognizes top educators from across the world.
Dr. Goffney is married to Joseph Goffney. They have two children, Joseph, Jr., 17, and Joslyn, 13. Dr. Goffney and her husband, Joseph, have co-authored a book titled All is Well as a tribute to their special needs son.
David V. Styler has over 33 years in public education, the past seven years as superintendent of the Millard School District. A rural school district serving 2,900 students on 10 school campuses, Millard School District is recognized as an innovative leader in the state of Utah and an example of excellence in public education. Under his leadership, Millard School District has established both long and short term goals, with the over-arching objective of increasing student achievement. The areas of focus include taking steps to improve the recruitment and development of high quality professionals for all positions, the improvement of communication and partnering opportunities with the community, providing the highest quality facilities, tools, and resources for staff and students, and a laser focus on data to guide improvement.
Superintendent Styler has the rare opportunity to lead the same district in which he grew and learned as a child. Having been able to follow his own desire to live in and contribute to his home county, his focus has been clear… to create an educational environment that will propel students following down the same path, toward their own goals and aspirations.
Having returned home to make a difference, his 33-year professional career has been spent entirely in Millard County. After beginning his education career as a teacher of American History at Delta Middle School, his career transitioned when he was asked to serve as an assistant principal, first at Delta Middle, and later at Delta High School. He was then named principal at Delta Middle School where he served for ten years. From that position he was moved to the role of superintendent, where he has treasured the opportunity to serve all of the Millard County education community.
In a time of increasing teacher shortages and staffing challenges, he has worked to elevate the teaching profession. He has implemented new teacher incentives to attract and retain the finest teachers to Millard County, and has worked to boost pay for new teachers to get them to a level that helps them meet the demands of supporting families. During his tenure the district has instigated late career salary steps, 30-year appreciation awards, and a retirement stipend to show appreciation to life-long educators who have contributed to the success of students. He has worked with his Board to facilitate extensive paid professional development time in his district, with teachers receiving as many as 20 additional days to improve their knowledge and skills. Much of this time has been used to prepare teachers for the district’s personalized learning initiative, which promotes learning anywhere and anytime, with new and innovative technologies and instruction strategies to enhance student achievement. The personalized learning initiative will be critical to the future success of these rural youth as they prepare to live and compete in our digital world.
As superintendent, he has prioritized efforts to be in classrooms and has spent at least one class period in each of the district’s 165 classrooms each year. He uses these opportunities to review the goals of each teacher and determine how he can assist them in their achievement. He loves to see the wonderful things taking place in the lives of young people, and uses these opportunities to better understand their challenges and their victories. He loves to support Millard School District students in all their activities and performances. These personal interactions are for him, the highlight of his job.
Superintendent Styler currently serves as the President of the Utah State Superintendent’s Association (USSA) and loves his opportunity to rub shoulders with and learn from the incredible superintendents that serve in the State. He represents the superintendents on the Governor’s Educational Excellence Commission, where he meets with the governor and other education leaders frequently to discuss education issues in the state. He also serves as the co-chair of the Joint Legislative Committee, made up of all school board members, superintendents, and business administrators from around the State, which determines the legislative and budgetary priorities of those organizations. He is also a member of the Rules Committee of the USSA, which meets frequently with the State Superintendency to review State Board Rules and give input into their content.
Superintendent Styler is married to the former Danielle Henrie, also a product of the Millard School District, and they are the parents of five children, Savannah, Russell, Zachary, Kelli, and Madelyn, who have thrived in Millard County Schools.
A passionate and visionary leader in public education for 24 years, Dr. Aaron Spence is committed to ensuring that all students have access to the rigorous coursework, innovative learning opportunities, and resources they need to prepare them for success in college or the workforce. Spence has served as Superintendent of Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) since June 2014. As Superintendent, he is responsible for the instructional leadership and administrative operation of 86 schools and centers serving more than 67,000 students. The nearly 15,000 full and part-time employees of Virginia Beach schools credit Spence with creating and fostering a culture where input is welcomed, opinions are valued and differences are celebrated.
During his time in Virginia Beach, Spence has led district efforts to systematically address equity and poverty issues and their resulting impact on academic achievement, student engagement and discipline. In selecting Spence as the 2018 Virginia Superintendent of the Year, the Virginia Association of School Superintendents cited his strategies as a “textbook example of leadership necessary to make large-scale changes in an organization that produce significant changes and positive results.”
Examples of that strategic work include an intentional focus on equity at both the district and school level; an analysis of high poverty areas in relation to location of schools struggling to meet accreditation benchmarks; and, the development of a new tiered school improvement support model. Additionally, Spence took a detailed review of disproportionalities in discipline data (specifically for African American students and students with special needs) and established a Student Discipline Task Force made up of teachers, administrators, parents and community members. This task force was charged with reducing the number of suspensions administered throughout the district; closing the disproportionate gaps that existed in the number of suspensions and/or expulsions; and maximizing instructional time for all students in the classroom.
As a result of these and other ongoing efforts, VBCPS is now 100 percent accredited, discipline reports showcase a decline in referrals and suspensions; more students are enrolled in and achieving at higher levels in honors and advanced classes than ever before; and graduation rates stand at an historic high.
As Superintendent, Spence leads the implementation of the district's strategic framework, Compass to 2020, a five-year plan focused on four goals: high academic expectations, multiple pathways, social-emotional development and culture of growth and excellence. Developed with significant stakeholder input, Compass to 2020 is more than a shelved document. It is a true roadmap for teaching and learning in the district. At the heart of every leadership decision, Spence considers two questions: “Is this the right thing to do for children?” and “How does this align with our community’s expectations and goals set forth in Compass to 2020?” That constant reflection has led to innovative learning and groundbreaking new programs and opportunities for VBCPS students.
Since joining the school division, Spence has launched the district's Digital Learning Anchor School initiative--a pilot for a districtwide digital 1:1 learning program, oversaw the creation of an Entrepreneurship and Business Academy, led the development of a profile of a graduate, and directed the build-out of a robust K-12 academic and career planning process. He has developed and expanded partnerships with leading community and faith-based organizations, businesses and the military, including working with the United States Navy to engage all 5,245 VBCPS fifth-grade students in an annual interactive STEM learning experience at the annual Naval Air Station Oceana Air Show.
In this same spirit of engagement and collaboration, Spence has taken on leadership roles in the community, joining the boards of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce (Virginia Beach division), United Way of South Hampton Roads, Opportunity, Inc., the Access College Foundation and the Virginia Beach Education Foundation. In January 2017, Spence was the recipient of the Creating Unity in Our Community “Lead Like King” Award for his leadership of the district’s work to ensure equitable access to resources and rigorous courses for every student, every day.
While his primary focus is on the students of Virginia Beach, Spence’s leadership and advocacy for public education extend beyond his district into state and national arenas. He was appointed by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to serve as a member on the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact for Educational Opportunity for Military Children; he was asked to serve as the 2017 national chair for the Consortium of Large Countywide and Suburban School Districts; and he is the national chair for the EdLeader21 Professional Learning Community (PLC) Advisory Committee. In addition, in 2010, Dr. Spence was selected as an Emerging Leader by ASCD (formerly Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) and invited to participate in its national leadership program.
He has presented at conferences for the American Association of School Administrators, the National School Boards Association, EdLeader 21, the Center for Digital Leadership, the Virginia Association of School Superintendents and the Virginia School Boards Association on a variety of topics including educational leadership, equity and student achievement, digital transformation, college and workforce readiness, and staff engagement. In addition, Spence has authored and/or contributed to a number of publications on diverse issues in education, including, for example, addressing equity, leading for sustainability and digital learning transformation. (See attached list of presentations and publications.)
Spence came to VBCPS after serving as superintendent of Moore County Public Schools in North Carolina. During his tenure there, he launched a district-wide digital learning initiative designed to put a digital device, such as a laptop or tablet, in the hands of every student and teacher. He and his staff also worked strategically to improve the school district’s End of Grade Proficiency Scores. They were successful on that front, moving Moore County Public Schools up 20 places in state rankings on these measures.
Before his service in Moore County, Spence was Chief High School Officer of the Houston Independent School District (HISD), the nation's seventh largest school district. He also served as Chief Academic Officer and Director of Curriculum and Instruction in Chesterfield County, Virginia, as well as principal of Deep Run High School in Henrico County, Virginia. Spence began his career in 1994 as a French and photojournalism teacher in Stafford County Public Schools.
He attended the University of Virginia, where he received a bachelor's degree in French studies, a master's degree in secondary education and a doctorate in educational administration and supervision. Spence is a proud graduate of Green Run High School in Virginia Beach. He often says that it is his greatest professional joy to lead the school district where he grew up, and he appreciates and marvels at the fact that several of his colleagues are his former teachers who supported his academic and emotional growth.
Spence and his wife, Krista, have six children; Bella (Isabella), Mattingly, Christopher, Kristianna, Ian and Aaron. In his free time, he enjoys sports and outdoor activities with his family, reading and travelling.
|Dr. Frank Hewins||WA||
Originally from New Jersey, Dr. Hewins received his bachelors of science degree at Frostburg State University in Maryland, his master of arts degree at Pacific Lutheran University, and his doctorate at Washington State University. After being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1972 and serving as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, Dr. Hewins began his education career as a teacher in Maryland in 1977. He later went on to teach in districts within the states of Alaska and Washington.
He began his administrative career in 1988 with Franklin Pierce SD as an assistant high school principal and over the last 30 years has served as a high school principal, executive director of K-12 education, and assistant superintendent. He was appointed as Superintendent of the Franklin Pierce School District in 2007. His wife, Cathy, and he have two grown daughters, Megan and Lisa, sons-in-law Ken and David, and granddaughters Emi, Presley, Kaya, and Dylan.
Known for his ability to develop leadership capacity based on strong values for social justice, Dr. Hewins has assembled an exceptional team performing exceptional work where students are “beating the odds” in a diverse, high poverty school district. In 2009, his high schools were labeled as “drop-out factories” by the national media. By 2014, the on-time graduation rates in FPSD were exceeding both state and national averages and the district is now widely known for its work creating a college/career ready culture through 100% College Bound sign-ups and Early Warning Indicator Systems to support on-time graduation. Also known for his work in safety, security, and emergency preparedness, Dr. Hewins was the Chair of the Washington State School Safety Advisory and currently represents K-12 schools on the Region 5 Coordination Council for Homeland Security for Pierce County. Dr. Hewins is the Past-President of the WA Association of School Administrators (WASA) and represents western WA as a member of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) Governing Board.
As an active WASA member for over two decades and a two-term Governing Board member, Dr. Hewins has seen tremendous change in the vital work of educational administrators. The Superintendent is the voice for all the children in the community, including the many children that would have no other advocates to speak up for them.
Today, more than ever, AASA members have the awesome responsibility to protect public education
from the private and political interests that regard our schools as investment opportunities for corporate
gains rather than fostering the American tradition of an educated community that is the core of our
democratic process. Dr. Hewins has served the Franklin Pierce School District for 30 years, 11 of those
as the Superintendent. He has devoted his entire career as a servant-leader committed to providing the
best possible educational experience for every student.
Dr. Frank Hewins
I was born in Bluefield, West Virginia, on September 10, 1953. Bluefield is one of the small cities located in my current school district of Mercer County. My parents, Ray and Naoma Taylor, were also products of Mercer County. My father dropped out of school at an early age to help support his family, but through hard work, a desire to continue learning, and an innate ability to "fix things" he spent a large part of his adult life working as a service technician for Sears.
Throughout our childhood, both of my parents stressed the importance of education to my brother and me. For me, their influence in the area of education was tremendous. Consistently, my parents explained that education was the key that would open the door of opportunity for me. Their faith in the power of education to make a difference in our future continues to influence me today as I strive to open those doors of opportunity for our students in Mercer County.
As a child, I attended public school in Mercer County and graduated at the age of sixteen as valedictorian of my class. I entered Concord College, now Concord University, in the fall of 1970. In September, I turned seventeen (17), in November I married Stephen Akers who had been inducted into the Army in July, making for a busy year. About one month later, Stephen was deployed to Germany.
When my parents gave their permission for me to marry, I promised to complete my first year of college before I moved to join my husband. Honoring that commitment, Stephen left for Germany in December, and I joined him in May of that year. I lived and worked in Germany during Stephen's service time. We returned to our home at the end of his deployment, and I re-entered college. Taking additional courses each semester, I was able to complete my Bachelor’s Degree in 1974 – four years after graduating from high school.
I began my teaching career in Mercer County in 1974. I have been able to progress through the system throughout my career, serving as an Instructional Supervisor, Director of Research and Evaluation, Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent before being named Superintendent in 1992. I have continued to serve as superintendent for Mercer County since that time. It has been a huge bonus to be able to stay in my home county and serve the people of my community throughout my career.
Educationally, I started graduate classes the fall semester after graduating from Concord. I earned my Masters from Radford University in 1976 and my doctorate from Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI) and State University, now Virginia Tech, in 1982. At the time I was working on my Masters and my Doctorate, I was employed as a full time teacher in Mercer County. I, likewise, completed my degree at VPI in the same manner, with the exception of utilizing an educational leave to complete a mandatory semester residency.
Although my mother expressed a few negative thoughts about my early marriage, we have now been happily married for forty-seven (47) years. In addition to the many professional activities I enjoy, my husband Stephen and I have several hobbies. I love to read and am often reading several books simultaneously. We owned and showed American Saddlebred horses for fifteen (15) years, but we have now switched to motorcycles. We love to travel and have been on hunting safaris in Africa, New Zealand, Canada and Spain. We also kayak, fish, water ski, snow ski, and ride bicycles. For the past three (3) years, we have participated in a one-hundred mile bicycle trek to raise funds for the American Lung Association.
During my tenure as superintendent for Mercer County Schools, I have worked diligently to augment our finances thorough grants and donations from foundations and individuals, to date, projects totally more than eight (8) million dollars have been completed through donated funds. Additionally during this time period, six (6) new schools have been built and several major renovation projects completed without any tax increase to our communities. Financing for these projects was secured through a highly competitive grant process at the state level and careful management of our financial resources.
Throughout my career I have continued to teach, I have served as an adjunct professor at Marshall University, West Virginia University, West Virginia College of Graduate Studies, Bluefield State College, Concord University, and Bluefield College. I also served as a Leader in Residence/Assistant Professor at West Virginia University. Another important part of my professional life has been to be actively involved in professional organizations. I have been a member of the West Virginia Association of School Administrators for more than thirty (30) years, serving as either a regional representative or officer for the past twenty (20) years. I have served as President of the organization twice. On a national level, I have been a member of AASA since 2001, serving as a Governing Board member from 2008-2012, and as a member of the Executive Committee from 2012-2017.
In reflection, I truly believe that education is the key that opened so many doors for me. I believe that public education is the best hope for many Americans, that with continued efforts to adapt and improve, public education will serve this country well. This conviction is my foundation and fuels my passion and support for public education.
Band, Choir and General Music Director Missoula County High Schools, Seeley Lake, MT 1987-1989
High School Band Director Converse County S. D. #1, Douglas, WY 1989-1991
Middle School Band Director Sheridan County S. D. #2, Sheridan, WY 1991-1996
Jr./Sr. High School Principal Carbon County S. D. #2, Hanna, WY 1996-1999
Big Piney Middle School Principal Sublette County S. D. #9, Big Piney, WY1999-2008
Superintendent Sublette County S. D. #9, Big Piney, WY 2007-2014
Superintendent Johnson County S.D. #1, Buffalo, WY 2014- present
H.S. Diploma Big Piney H.S., Big Piney, WY 1979-1983
B.A. Music Education University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 1983-1987
M.A. Education Administration University of Wyoming Laramie, WY 1994-1996
Ed. D. Educational Leadership University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 2008-2015