AASA Honors Veteran Educators for Distinguished Service



James Minichello
703-774-6953 (cell)

Nashville, Tenn. – Feb. 14, 2014 – AASA, The School Superintendents Association, honored three exceptional educators today, including the immediate past president of the association, with Distinguished Service Awards. A ceremony to recognize these individuals was held at AASA’s Conference on Education in Nashville, Tenn.

The honorees are being recognized by AASA for bringing honor to themselves, their colleagues and their profession; rendering exemplary service to their state or national professional association; and contributing to the education field through writing, public advocacy, or other activities.

Benny L. Gooden
Benny L. Gooden is the superintendent of schools in Fort Smith, Ark., a position he has held since 1986. He has served in public education for 48 years as a teacher, administrator and school superintendent. Gooden has served as president of his state administrators association and as president of AASA in 2012-2013. He was named Arkansas Superintendent of the Year in 1992, recipient of the Dr. Dan Pilkington Award by the Arkansas School Boards Association in 2000 and the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Award by the National PTA in 1999.

Dennis Ray
Dennis Ray has served in educational leadership roles in a career that spans five decades, including six school districts over a period of nearly 30 years. While those contributions are significant, it is his work in developing school system leaders through Washington State University’s superintendent preparation program that makes Ray deserving of this award. In 1994, Ray was recruited by Washington State University to restructure the WSU Superintendent Certification Program. The resulting program, “Leaders for Tomorrow’s Schools,” is a two-year, field-based program with a strong focus on social justice, ethical decision-making, school board relationships and the improvement of student learning. Today, nearly one-half of Washington’s school district are or have been led by superintendents who are graduates of his program.

Richard L. Thompson
Richard L. Thompson has served in public education for 45 years in numerous roles, including high school teacher and principal, public school superintendent, North Carolina Deputy State Superintendent, Vice President for the University of North Carolina General Administration and State Superintendent of Education in Mississippi. He also served as director of the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching, a North Carolina institution focused on advancing teaching and keeping high-quality teachers in public education classrooms.


About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, 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 www.aasa.org. Follow AASA on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AASAHQ or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AASApage. Information on AASA Children’s Programs on Twitter @AASATotalChild.