Four Finalists Selected for the 2011 National Superintendent of the Year Program



Kitty Porterfield, AASA, 703-774-6953,
Karen Cutler, ARAMARK Education, 215-238-4063,
David Gargione, ARAMARK Education, 215-238-3559,
Audria Belton Benn, ING, 770-980-5715,

Finalists selected from 49 state-level winners;
National winner will be announced Feb. 17, 2011, at the
AASA National Conference on Education

ARLINGTON, Va., January 4, 2011 – The American Association of School Administrators has announced four finalists in the 2011 National Superintendent of the Year program. The program, co-sponsored by ARAMARK Education, ING and AASA and now in its 24th year, celebrates the contributions and leadership of public school superintendents. AASA will announce the 2011 National Superintendent of the Year on Feb. 17, 2011, at the National Conference on Education in Denver, Colo.

The four finalists for 2011 AASA National Superintendent of the Year are:

"AASA is pleased to recognize these four outstanding superintendents," said AASA Executive Director Daniel A. Domenech. "Their dedication to transforming schools, providing quality education for all students, and working with the school community to advance student success represents the best in school system leadership today."

"The Superintendent of the Year program honors the many dedicated and talented leaders in education, and ARAMARK is proud to continue our support of the program," said Dennis Maple, president, ARAMARK Education. "ARAMARK strives to create a positive educational environment for K-12 students across the nation, as well as strengthen our relationships with the school districts we serve and their communities. We are pleased to honor school administrators who share the same goals."

"ING is proud to sponsor the National Superintendent of the Year program and extends our congratulations to the national finalists and all the state winners," said Rhonda Mims, president of the ING Foundation. "We are committed to education and honoring the superior leadership of our public school superintendents for their efforts in advancing student achievement and positively influencing our youth is one way we can support excellence in education."

The four national finalists were chosen from 49 State Superintendent of the Year finalists. The finalists will be at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 11, 2011, where they will be interviewed by a national blue-ribbon selection panel of educators, businesspeople and government officials.

Fisher has been superintendent of the Greenville County School District, the largest school district in South Carolina, which serves 69,800 students, since 2004. She previously served as an assistant superintendent and chief operating officer in the district. She earned her bachelor’s degree from St. Paul’s College in Virginiaand her and master's and doctoral degrees from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

Fisher is recognized for her vision and determination which led to the construction of 70 schools, the opening of the state’s first elementary school with a fully integrated engineering curriculum, students consistently outperforming their national peers on high-stake tests, meeting the needs of a diverse student population by championing programs such as virtual school and twilight school, and offering choice programs that provide opportunities for learning while recognizing the important role of extracurricular activities in developing an individual’s full potential.

Heuschel has been superintendent of the Renton School District, an urban/suburban system south of Seattle, Wash.,which serves more than 14,000 students, since 2000. She formerly held a number of senior management roles in Washington State public schools and served as the deputy state superintendent at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction in Olympia, Wash. She is a graduate of Wheelock College in Boston and earned her master's degree in special education at Northwestern University. She earned her doctorate in educational leadership at Seattle Pacific University.

Heuschel is recognized for her relentless pursuit of equity and excellence and unwavering belief that all students meet high personal and academic standards. Significant growth in student achievement has occurred over the last 5 years. The dropout rate has been dramatically reduced; the graduation rate has steadily increased to an all-time high, reaching 93% for the last two consecutive years. The Renton School District (RSD) is closing the achievement gaps among all minority student groups. Heuschel is a passionate leader who is able to build skill, leadership capacity and teamwork among educators. RSD schools and many staff have been recognized by state and local organizations for improvement, innovation and excellence.

Johnson has been superintendent of the Sanger School District; a rural district located in the Central Valley of California, which serves 10, 800 students, since 2003. The highly diverse student population includes 82% minority enrollment, 76% free and reduced lunch recipients, and 24% English Language Learners. Johnson previously served as assistant superintendent of human resources and associate superintendent in the district. He is a graduate of Reedley Community College, California State University Fresno and Fresno Pacific University where he received his Masters degree and completed his credential programs.

Johnson is recognized for restructuring the district’s schools into Professional Learning Communities focused on student learning, high quality instruction and teacher collaboration. In a two-year time period the achievement gains were immediate and dramatic. Sanger became one of the first districts in the state of California to exit Program Improvement, its status under the No Child Left Behind Act in 2004. Since then, the Sanger District has shown some of the highest overall achievement gains in the State; 13 schools have been designated as State Distinguished Schools; 12 schools have been designated as Title I Academic Achieving Schools; two schools have been named National Blue Ribbon Schools and all 13 elementary schools were honored for their outstanding character development programs.

Trigg has been superintendent of the Blue Valley School District, a suburban district outside of Kansas City, serving 21,000 students, since 2004. He previously served as assistant superintendent and deputy superintendent of administrative services in the district. Trigg is a graduate of Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas. He completed his master’s degree in Educational Administration from Emporia State University and earned his Ed.D. from the University of Kansas.

Trigg is recognized for his vision, now a reality, of a uniquely innovative program to provide real world learning experiences for students. The Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) prepares the next generation of professionals by focusing on student collaboration with business leaders, mentorships, internships, partnerships, project based learning and 21st century skills.

Under Trigg’s leadership, student achievement results reach an all-time high in Blue Valley. Since the inception of NCLB, the district, every school in the district, each grade-level and all subgroups have attained Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). According to research conducted by the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Blue Valley is the only district in the nation with an enrollment of more than 20,000 students that can make this claim.

The annual Superintendent of the Year program is open to all U.S., Canadian, and International school superintendents who plan to continue in the profession. The applicants were measured against the following criteria: 

  • Leadership for learning – creativity in successfully meeting the needs of students in the school system.
  • Communication – strength in both personal and organizational communication.
  • Professionalism – constant improvement of administrative knowledge and skills, while providing professional development opportunities and motivation to others on the education team.
  • Community involvement – active participation in local community activities and an understanding of regional, national and international issues.

A $10,000 college scholarship will be presented in the name of the National Superintendent of the Year to a student in the high school from which the superintendent graduated, or the school now serving the same area.

The National Superintendent of the Year will receive a jacket emblazoned with the National Superintendent of the Year emblem and, with the three other national finalists, will be recognized at the AASA National Conference on Education on Feb. 17, 2011, during the ceremony announcing the National Superintendent of the Year.

The 49 state-level, Canadian and international winners will also be honored at the AASA National Conference on Education. The winners are: 


Jamie Blair



Steve Bradshaw

Sitka School District, Sitka


Beverly J. Hurley

Buckeye Union High School District 201, Buckeye


Joyce L. Vaught

Lakeside School District, Lake Village


Marcus P. Johnson

Sanger Unified School District, Sanger


John L. Barry

Aurora Public School System, Aurora


Elizabeth M. Osga

Regional School District 18, Old Lyme


Daniel Davison Curry

Lake Forest School District, Felton


Ronald Blocker

Orange County Public Schools, Orlando


Samuel T. King

Rockdale County Public Schools, Conyers


James P. Norton

Parma School District 137, Parma


Robert E. Gillum

Ball Chatham Community Unit School District 5, Chatham


Thomas Hunter

Greensburg Community School Corporation, Greensburg


Gary Sinclair

Dallas Center-Grimes Community School, Dallas Center


Tom Trigg

Blue Valley Unified School District 229, Overland Park


Thomas D. Shelton

Daviess County Public Schools, Owensboro


Gary L. Jones

Rapides Parish Schools, Alexandria


Robert Bouchard

Central Lincoln County School System, AOS 93,



Edward W. Shirley

Caroline County Public Schools, Denton



Michael F. Fitzpatrick

Blackstone Valley Vocational Regional School District,



Brian W. Davis

Holland Public Schools, Holland


Scott R. Staska

ROCORI Independent School District 750, Cold Spring


Charles E. Garrett, Jr.

New Albany School District, New Albany


Dennis Fisher

Park Hill School District, Kansas City



Plevna School District 55, Plevna


Michael J. Cunning

Hershey Public Schools, Hershey


Robert Slaby

Storey County School District, Virginia City

New Hampshire

Bruce C. Labs

School Administrative Unit 23, North Haverhill

New Jersey

Mark J. Raivetz

Haddon Township Public Schools, Westmont

New Mexico

Janel M. Ryan

Farmington Municipal Schools, Farmington

New York

Bernard P. Pierorazio

Yonkers City School District, Yonkers

North Carolina

Donald L. Martin

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, Winston-Salem

North Dakota

Jeff G. Fastnacht

Ellendale Public School District 40 , Ellendale


Phillip G. Price

Mayfield City School District, Mayfield Heights


Kathryn Turner

Fletcher Public Schools, Fletcher


Nancy L. Golden

Springfield Public Schools, Springfield


Kathleen R. Kelley

Williamsport Area School District, Williamsport

Rhode Island

Katherine E. Sipala

Narragansett School System, Narragansett

South Carolina

Phinnize J. Fisher

Greenville County Schools, Greenville

South Dakota

Dean Christensen

Deuel School District 19-4, Clear Lake


Richard L. Kitzmiller

Kingsport City Schools, Kingsport


Richard A. Middleton

North East Independent School District, San Antonio


Ronald F. Wolff

Box Elder School District, Brigham City


Thomas F. O'Brien

Addison Northwest Supervisory Union, Vergennes


Rosa S. Atkins

Charlottesville City Public Schools, Charlottesville


Mary Alice Heuschel

Renton School System, Renton

West Virginia

Frank D. Devono

Monongalia County Schools, Morgantown


Joe A. Schroeder

Muskego-Norway Schools, Muskego


Diana I. Clapp

Fremont County School District 6, Pavillion


John Mackle

Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and

Clarington Catholic District School Board, Ontario

International Schools

David Toze

Manila, Philippines

For more information about the National Superintendent of the Year program, please contact Sharon Mullen at or 703-875-0717.

About AASA
The American Association of School Administrators, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. For more information, visit Follow AASA on twitter at Become a fan of the AASA Facebook page at


ARAMARK Education provides a complete range of food, facility, uniform and other support services to more than 500 K-12 school districts in the U.S. It offers public and private education institutions a family of dining and facility services including: on-site and off-site breakfast and lunch meal programs, after-school snacks, catering, nutrition education, retail design and facilities management services, including maintenance, custodial, grounds, energy management, construction management, and building commissioning. For more information on ARAMARK Education’s K-12 food service programs, please visit

About ING

ING is a global financial institution of Dutch origin offering banking, investments, life insurance, and retirement services to over 85 million residential, corporate and institutional clients in more than 40 countries. With a diverse workforce of about 115,000 people, ING is dedicated to setting the standard in helping our clients manage their financial future. For more information, visit

About the ING Foundation

The ING Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life in communities where ING operates and its employees and customers live. Through charitable giving and employee volunteerism, the foundation focuses on programs in the areas of financial literacy, children’s education, diversity and environmental sustainability. For more information, visit