Four Finalists Selected for 2010 AASA National Superintendent of the Year

December 17, 2009

2010 SOY_Joyce  C. Levey2010 SOY_Elizabeth Molina Morgan2010 SOY _Walt Rulffes2010 SOY_Cynthia Stevenson

Joyce C.

Elizabeth Molina



Amy Vogt, AASA

David Gargione, ARAMARK Education

Audria Belton Benn, ING

Finalists selected from 49 state-level winners;
National winner will be announced Feb. 11, 2010, at the AASA National Conference on Education

ARLINGTON, Va. – The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) has announced four finalists in the 2010 AASA National Superintendent of the Year program. The program, co-sponsored by ARAMARK Education, ING and AASA and now in its 23rd year, celebrates the contributions and leadership of public school superintendents. AASA will announce the 2010 National Superintendent of the Year on Feb. 11, 2010, at the National Conference on Education in Phoenix, Ariz.

The four finalists for 2010 AASA National Superintendent of the Year are:

  • Joyce C. Levey, superintendent, Tuscaloosa City Schools, Alabama
  • Elizabeth Molina Morgan, superintendent, Washington County Public Schools, Maryland
  • Walt Rulffes, superintendent, Clark County School District, Nevada
  • Cynthia Stevenson, superintendent, Jefferson County Public Schools, Colorado

“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.”

“ARAMARK would like to congratulate the four finalists who are nominated for this prestigious award and would like to recognize all of the superintendents across the country for their continued leadership and contributions to their respective school district,” said Dennis Maple, president, ARAMARK Education. “ARAMARK is proud to support the AASA and their Superintendent of the Year program.”

“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 Superintendent of the Year finalists. The finalists will be at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 12, 2010, where they will be interviewed by a national blue-ribbon selection panel of educators, businesspeople and government officials.

Levey has been superintendent of the Tuscaloosa, Ala., City Schools, which serve 10,300 students, since 2003. She previously served as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in the district. She earned her bachelor’s and master's degrees at the University of Alabama, Birmingham and her educational specialist and doctoral degrees from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.

Levey was recognized for her efforts to transform Tuscaloosa City schools, including her implementation of professional learning communities, leadership academies, a pre-K program, a middle-school initiative, and a comprehensive strategic plan through community-based partnerships.

Morgan has been superintendent of the Washington County, Md., Public Schools, which serve 21,900 students, since 2001. She previously served as chief academic officer of the Baltimore, Md., Public Schools, and has served successfully in four counties in Maryland. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Queens College, a certificate and professional diploma from Hofstra University, and her Ph.D. from American University, Washington, D.C.

Morgan was recognized for increasing the graduation rate and reducing the dropout rate in Washington County through the development of a student-focused strategic plan. Under her direction, test scores have steadily increased each year, particularly for minority and poverty groups, and the school system has achieved Adequate Yearly Progress in all schools and in all academic areas.

Rulffes has been superintendent of the Clark County, Nev., School District, which serves 309,600 students, since 2005. He previously served as deputy superintendent of finance and operations in the district. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Washington State University, and his M.B.A. and Ph.D. from Gonzaga University.

Rulffes was recognized for focusing on student achievement, staff development and parental involvement; linking accountability measures and improvement; expansion of career and technical education programs; reform through school empowerment; and sound fiscal management of Clark County, one of the largest districts in the nation.

Stevenson has been superintendent of the Jefferson County, Colo., Public Schools, which serve 84,800 students, since 2002. She previously served as deputy superintendent in the district. She received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Colorado.

Stevenson was recognized for contributing to the development of teachers and educational leaders in Jefferson County, maintaining a focus on student achievement, improving teaching and learning, creating community partnerships and focusing on continuous improvement.

The annual Superintendent of the Year program is open to all U.S. public school superintendents as well as superintendents of American schools abroad and Department of Defense Education Activity 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. 11, 2010, during the ceremony announcing the National Superintendent of the Year.

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

  • Alabama: Joyce C. Levey, Tuscaloosa City Schools, Tuscaloosa
  • Alaska: James A. Hickerson, Bering Strait School District, Unalakleet
  • Arizona: Nicholas I. Clement, Flowing Wells School District, Tucson
  • Arkansas: Matt McClure, Cross Country School District, Cherry Valley
  • California: Virginia Peterson, Garvey School District, Rosemead
  • Colorado: Cynthia Stevenson, Jefferson County Public Schools, Golden
  • Connecticut: David G. Title, Bloomfield Public Schools, Bloomfield
  • Delaware: Steven H. Godowsky, New Castle County Vo-Tec School District, Wilmington
  • Florida: Margaret A. Smith, Volusia County School District, Deland
  • Georgia: Paul A. Shaw, White County School System, Cleveland
  • Idaho: Candis R. Donicht, Moscow School District 281, Moscow
  • Illinois: Edward Rafferty, Schaumburg Community Consolidated School District 54, Schaumburg
  • Indiana: Terry J. Thompson, Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, Indianapolis
  • Iowa: Jere Vyverberg, Waverly-Shell Rock Community Schools, Waverly
  • Kansas: Rob Winter, Salina Public Schools, Salina
  • Kentucky: Tim Hanner, Kenton County School District, Ft. Wright
  • Louisiana: John E. Bourque, Arcadia Parish School District, Crowley
  • Maryland: Elizabeth Molina Morgan, Washington County Public Schools, Hagerstown
  • Massachusetts: Nicholas D. Young, Hadley Public Schools, Hadley
  • Michigan: David J. Campbell, Olivet Community Schools, Olivet
  • Minnesota: Patricia Jo Phillips, N. St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale  School District 622, N. Saint Paul
  • Mississippi: Milton Kuykendall, DeSoto County School District, Hernando
  • Missouri: Ronald Lankford, Webb City R-7 School District, Webb City
  • Montana: Darlene Schottle, Kalispell Public Schools, Kalispell
  • Nebraska: Steven K. Rector, South Sioux City Community School District, South Sioux City
  • Nevada: Walt Rulffes, Clark County School District, Las Vegas
  • New Hampshire: Michael J. Martin, School Administrative Unit 46, Penacook
  • New Jersey: Raymond J. Brosel, Voorhees Township Public Schools, Voorhees
  • New Mexico: Karen M. Couch, Moriarty- Edgewood School District, Moriarty
  • New York: Louis N. Wool, Harrison Central School District, Harrison
  • North Carolina: Donna Cox Peters, Montgomery County Schools, Troy
  • North Dakota;, Michael K. Bradner, Mayville-Portland-Clifford-Galesburg School District, Mayville
  • Ohio: Gregg E. Morris, Gahanna-Jefferson City Schools, Gahanna
  • Oklahoma: Deborah J. Arato, Moore School District, Moore
  • Oregon: Paula A. Radich, Newberg School District 29 J, Newberg
  • Pennsylvania: Amy F. Sichel , Abington School District, Abington
  • Rhode Island: Robert M. O' Brien, Smithfield School System, Smithfield
  • South Carolina: Valerie Page Truesdale, Beaufort County School District, Beaufort
  • South Dakota: Donald Kirkegaard, Britton-Hecia School, Britton
  • Tennessee: Denise H. Brown, Unicoi County School System, Erwin
  • Texas: Oscar Rodriguez Jr., Mission Consolidated Independent School District, Mission
  • Utah: Chris S. Sorensen, Nebo School District, Spanish Fork
  • Vermont: Daniel M. French, Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union, Sunderland
  • Virginia: Fred S. Morton IV, Henrico County Public Schools, Henrico
  • Washington: Steve Chestnut, Selah School District, Selah
  • West Virginia: William A. Niday, Wood County Schools, Parkersburg
  • Wisconsin: Gerald Kember, La Crosse School District, La Crosse
  • Wyoming: Suzanne Belish, Sheridan County School District 1, Ranchester
  • Canada: Johanne Messner, Toronto District Schools
  • International: Jack Delman, Dominican Republic

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

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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 United States. 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.

In the United States, the ING (NYSE: ING) family of companies offers a comprehensive array of financial services to retail and institutional clients, which includes life insurance, retirement plans, mutual funds, managed accounts, alternative investments, direct banking, institutional investment management, annuities, employee benefits, financial planning and reinsurance. ING holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves nearly 30 million customers across the nation.

ING’s diversity management philosophy and commitment to workplace diversity, diversity marketing, corporate citizenship and supplier diversity fosters an inclusive environment for employees that supports a distinctive product and service experience for the financial services consumer. 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