Education Week Spotlights Work of 16 School District Leaders
Education Week introduces the first of what will be an annual Leaders To Learn From report--a way to recognize forward-thinking education leaders and share their ideas.
Contact: Debra Viadero, assistant
Feb. 4, 2013 -- In an environment of tight resources, tough academic
challenges, and increasingly stiff competition from new education providers,
smart leadership may matter more than ever for the success of America’s school
districts. Against this backdrop, Education
Week introduces the first of what will be an annual Leaders To Learn From report—a way to recognize forward-thinking
education leaders and share their ideas.
The importance of effective educational leadership goes
almost without saying: Some research suggests leadership is second only to classroom
instruction among all the school-related factors that contribute to student
This 2013 report profiles 16 district-level
leaders—superintendents, assistant superintendents, and others—who seized on
creative but practical approaches and put them to work in their school
districts. It tells the stories of problem-solvers who saw a need for change in
some aspect of schooling in their communities, whether in English-language
instruction, dropout reduction, instructional technology, or school construction,
and found a way to carry it out.
To find these leaders, Education
Week put out
a call to readers for nominees, starting last June. Editorial staff also sought
nominations from administrators’ groups in most of the 50 states, as well as
from members of the Education Writers Association, a Washington-based
organization that includes local education reporters around the country. Education
Week’s own reporters identified leaders who are making their marks
within the topical areas those reporters cover. Members of the editorial staff
made the final selections.
The leaders featured in the inaugural issue include:
- An Ohio
superintendent who drove a successful effort to move 16 low-performing schools
out of “academic emergency” status;
- A Minnesota superintendent
who spearheaded a push to more inclusively educate English-language learners;
- A technology
specialist in Missouri who helped organize social-networking events to further
teachers’ professional development; and,
- A district chief from
upstate New York who recruited tuition-paying international students to keep
his single school afloat.
complete list of the featured profiles is attached. Urban districts, such as
Boston and Baltimore, are represented. So, too, are Texas’ Rio Grande Valley,
rural communities like Garrett, Ind., and Duplin County, N.C., and, Virginia’s
Loudoun County, an upscale outer-ring suburb.
addition to being featured in the report, which is scheduled to be published
online Feb. 4 at edweek.org and in print Feb. 6, the leaders will be recognized
in April at a forum in Washington, D.C., featuring U.S. Secretary of Education
more details, or to nominate a leader for next year’s edition, go to
edweek.org/leaders. This link will be live on Feb. 4.
LEARN FROM: A Look at Who’s Profiled
its first annual Leaders to Learn From report,
Education Week highlights innovative
achievements of district-level administrators from school systems across the
nation. The featured leaders are:
Jonathan Brice, officer
of school support networks, Baltimore Public Schools: Brice was the engineer
behind Baltimore superintendent Andres Alonso’s call to rethink the way the
district disciplines its students. The
rate of out-of-school suspensions in that city dropped from one in five
students to one in eight over three years.
Michele Brooks, assistant
superintendent, office of family and student engagement, Boston Public Schools:
disgruntled parent, Brooks now leads efforts to engage Boston’s parents in
their children’s learning.
Patricia Ciccone, retired
superintendent, Connecticut State Technical High School System: Ciccone brought new
attention to school-climate issues in her school system by piloting a survey that is now used in schools statewide
to take a pulse on how students feel about their schools.
Linda F. Hicks, superintendent,
Battle Creek Schools, Mich.: By bolstering science, technology, engineering,
and mathematics instruction in her school system, Linda Hicks hopes to enable
her students to find jobs with the multinational food manufacturers and
research facilities in and near Battle Creek.
Clark “Skip” Hults, superintendent,
Newcomb Central School District, N.Y.: Hults revitalized and enriched his rural district
by luring tuition-paying international students to study there.
Daniel P. King,
superintendent, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District, Texas: On his watch, the
district’s dropout rate has declined by nearly 90 percent with the creation of
early-college high schools, a career academy, and an intensive dropout recovery
effort that sent district staff door to door to bring back dropouts.
Obasohan, superintendent, Duplin County Schools, Kenansville, N.C.: Obasohan
is leading efforts to create a districtwide, early-college system in Duplin
County and instill college ambitions in students as early as kindergarten.
Kyle Pace, instructional
technology specialist, Lee’s Summit Schools, Mo.: Pace has become an expert
at harnessing the power of social media to further teachers’ professional
Jeffrey K. Platenberg, former
assistant superintendent, Loudoun County Public Schools, Ashburn, Va.: During his tenure, the
school system build 13 new schools, renovated nine, and built five school
additions---all while saving money.
superintendent, Cincinnati Public Schools, Ohio: With guidance from the
University of Virginia’s school turnaround program, Ronan moved all 16 of her
district’s lowest-performing schools out of “academic emergency” status.
superintendent, St. Paul Public Schools, Minn.: As the district’s former
director of English-language-learner services, Silva dramatically transformed
the district’s approach to teaching English-learners.
Steve A. Simmons III,
director of transportation, Columbus Public Schools, Ohio: More efficient bus routes
and technological devices that allow administrators to keep track of buses and
students are among Simmons’ achievements.
Judy Sorrell, director,
Shenandoah Valley Regional Program for Special Education, Fishersville, Va.: This longtime special
educator has been a pioneer in her state for improving services to students
with autism spectrum disorder and traumatic brain injuries.
superintendent, Garrett-Keyser-Butler-Community School District, Garrett, Ind.:
has figured out a way for all 1,875 students in his rural district to either
have an iPad or a computer, and he’s making wireless access available in students’ homes and after school hours in
superintendent, Jefferson County Public Schools, Colorado, and Kerrie Dallman, former president, Jefferson County Education
Association: Faced with a 10 percent cut in the district budget, Stevenson, Dallman, and other stakeholders
worked together to negotiate $40 million in cuts upfront.
Education Week’s special Leaders To Learn From report will be
posted online Feb. 4 at www.edweek.org. For more information on
the report, contact project editor Debra Viadero at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Education Week has been American education’s newspaper of
record since 1981. Published by Editorial Projects in Education (EPE), a nonprofit, tax-exempt
organization based in Bethesda, Md., its print and online publications cover
local, state, national, and international news and issues from preschool
through the 12th grade. EPE also publishes the Quality
Counts, Technology Counts, and Diplomas Count annual reports; Digital Directions magazine; the online Teacher, Digital
Directions, and Industry & Innovation channels; and the
TopSchoolJobs employment resource. It also provides research and analysis
through the EPE Research Center.
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the views of the Education Writers Association, its board of directors
or its members.