Superintendent of the Year Finalists at National Press Club

By Dan Domenech

January 8, 2013
I was so proud to represent AASA today at a press conference at the National Press Club to introduce the four finalists for AASA’s National Superintendent of the Year: 

Press Conference Four Finalists

From left to right: Maryalice Russell, superintendent, McMinnville School District, McMinnville, Ore.; Mark Edwards, superintendent, Mooresville Graded School District, Mooresville, N.C.
; C.J. Huff, superintendent, Joplin Public Schools, Joplin, Mo.; Wanda Cook-Robinson, superintendent, Southfield Public Schools, Southfield, Mich.

Photo by Lifetouch. Download original image here.

In a panel-style discussion, each of the four responded to a questions posed by NSPRA’s Executive Director Rich Bagin. Then, the panel was asked questions from the audience about current trends in education as seen from the front lines, including charter schools, teacher preparation and school safety.

Here’s a portion of how each responded to a question regarding their response in the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14:

Mark Edwards

We took a variety of actions including a meeting with our police chief, a review of our safe school plan and an evaluation of who has access to the school and the perimeter. One outcome has been that the police now have access keys to all of our schools.

C.J. Huff
I agree with the notion of taking the long view to approach school safety. We have a plan in place, and we revisited it. We are building new schools and will use that as an opportunity to install additional safety measures. We have legislators who want to arm all teachers. We will fight that tooth and nail

Wanda Cook-Robinson
We re-evaluated our security plan and called in a safety consultant to provide additional perspective, Neither the mayor nor the police chief wants teachers to have guns. We have cameras and a buzzer fob system, and we plan to add police liaisons to all schools.

Maryalice Russell
It’s time we helped people better defend themselves, and we’re looking at ways to broaden our strategies and structures to empower our teachers and students. Everyone in the school is a first responder. We plan to engage our staff in discussion about how to extend our thinking about helping people better defend themselves. An instructional component is part of the answer. 

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