Finalists for 2011 AASA Women in School Leadership Award

Contact: Kitty Porterfield, 703-774-6953,

Arlington, Va., Nov. 12, 2010. Four finalists for the AASA Women in School Leadership Award, sponsored by Farmers Insurance Group and the American Association of School Administrators, were announced yesterday at the annual AASA Women in School Leadership Forum, held in Crystal City, Va. The award is designed to recognize exceptional leadership of active, front-line female administrators who are making a difference in the lives of students every day. The award pays tribute to the talent, creativity and vision of outstanding women educational administrators in the nation’s public schools.

This is the first time the award has been given. The criteria include demonstration of strength in both personal and organizational communication, professionalism and community involvement. Fifty-one women from across the country were nominated for the award: 31 superintendents and assistant superintendents, five cabinet-level leaders and 15 principals.

The winner will be announced by Farmers Insurance Group and AASA at the 2011 AASA National Conference on Education in Denver, Feb. 17-19.

The finalists are:

Claudia Ardon-Diaz, director of migrant education at Delano Union School District, Calif. Diaz restructured the migrant program in her school district, extending the school day from kindergarten through eighth grade, formulating math and language arts focus standards, adding Saturday Academies for struggling students, and insuring that preschool-age students participate in “Aprendiendo en Casa,” a program for migrant parents and teachers.

Ranelle J. Lang, superintendent of Greeley-Evans, Colo., School District 6. Lang revised and aligned the district curriculum, changed the teachers’ instructional philosophy from “Have I Taught It?’ to “Have Our Students Learned It?” instituted data-driven decision making, and improved district effectiveness and accountability—and accomplished this with limited per student funding.

Melody A. Johnson, superintendent of Fort Worth, Texas, Independent School District. During the five years that Johnson has led Fort Worth ISD, student achievement has been increasing and the achievement gap has been shrinking. In 2009-10, students showed statistically significant gains in nearly every grade and every subject for every student population. A recent report issued by Thomas Fordham University called Fort Worth a “hotbed” for educational reform.

Valerie P. Truesdale, superintendent of Beaufort County School District, S.C. Truesdale focuses on professional development and the use of technology, believing that teachers must teach in the manner in which students learn. In her district, every teacher has a laptop and learning spaces have interactive white boards and student response systems. She provides training and support for data analysis so that teachers can use data to shape instruction.

About AASA
The American Association of School Administrators, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders across the United States. 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

About Farmers Insurance Group:

Farmers Group Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Zurich Financial Services, an insurance-based financial services provider with a global network of subsidiaries and offices in North America and Europe as well as in Asia Pacific, Latin America and other markets. Headquartered in Los Angeles and doing business in 41 states, the Farmers insurers provide Homeowners, Auto, Business, Life insurance and financial services to more than 10 million households. For more information about Farmers, visit our Web site at