Beaufort County, S.C., Superintendent Receives AASA 2011 Women in School Leadership Award


Contact: Kitty Porterfield,, 703-774-6953

ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 18, 2011. Valerie Truesdale, superintendent, Beaufort County Public Schools in Beaufort, S.C., is the recipient of the American Association of School Administrators’ 2011 Women in School Leadership Award. She is being cited for her passionate instructional leadership, her ardent advocacy of technology in the classroom and her community activism on behalf of education.

The award, sponsored by Farmers Insurance and AASA, was presented on Feb. 18, 2011, at the awards ceremony at the AASA National Conference on Education in Denver. Truesdale will receive a $1,000 check and a one-year membership to the American Association of School Administrators.

The Women in School Leadership 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. The criteria include demonstration of strength in both personal and organizational communication, professionalism and community involvement.

As the superintendent of the 19,600-student Beaufort County School District since 2007 and the Oconee County, S.C., district for four years prior, Truesdale has modeled service above self. 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.

In the district’s persistently underperforming schools, some of which have poverty rates exceeding 90 percent, Truesdale has applied a brand of problem solving that’s contagious among her staff. She introduced an accelerated learning model, extended the school year to 200 days, recruited a master teacher for each grade level and set an annual goal of 18 months of academic growth for each student.

As a community activist, she was among the first education leaders in the state to endorse a legislative proposal that turns around schools through wholesale personnel changes and asked the state superintendent of education to include one of Beaufort’s schools among the earliest pilots. She recently encouraged the League of Women Voters to conduct an aggressive voter registration drive among the school district’s teachers, staff and students.

“Valerie embodies what is best in our school leaders,” said AASA Executive Director Daniel Domenech in announcing the award. “She has the passion and the skill to get the job done. She makes things happen for kids.”

“Farmers Insurance is proud to be a presenting sponsor of the AASA Women in School Leadership Award” said Faye W. McClure, Farmers Insurance vice president of strategic marketing. “We salute the achievements of the extraordinary women in administrative positions throughout our school systems."

This is the first time the award has been given. 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 nominees were as follows (those with a * were finalists):

Linda Aceves, Santa Clara County, Calif.
*Claudia Ardon-Diaz, Delano Union School District, Calif.
Nancy Biggs, Lincoln Public Schools, Neb.
Angela Birdwell, Higley Unified School District, Ariz.
Lois Bullock, Houston Independent Sch. Dist., Texas
Susanne Burkhardt, Shelby County Public Schools, Ky.
Happy Carrico, Denton Independent School District, Texas
Sweetwater Union High School District, Calif.
Pamela Cohn, Omaha Public Schools, Neb.
Pat Couch, Lewis County Schools, Tenn.
Doris Delaney, Region 4 Education Service Center, Texas
Salley Downey, East Valley Institute of Technology., Ariz.
Margaret Dredla, Educational Service Unit 13, Neb.
Merrianne Dyer, Gainesville City Schools, Ga.
Jacquie Estee, Westside Community Schools, Neb.
Corrine Frank, Maricopa County Regional School District, Ariz.
Rhonda Frueauff, Fort Huachuca Accommodation Schools, Ariz.
Lynn Green, Abeerdeen School District 5, Wash.
Gene Harris, Columbus City Schools, Ohio
Beverly Hurley, Buckeye Union High School District., Ariz.
Jamie Isom, Valentine Community Schools, Neb.
Julie Jackson, Fulton County School System, Ky.
Aresta Johnson, Bridgeport Board of Education, Conn.
*Melody Johnson, Fort Worth Independent School District., Texas
Fawzia Keval, Elk Grove Unified School District, Calif.
*Ranelle Lang, Greeley-Evans School District 6, Colo.
Virgina McElyea, Deer Valley Unified School District, Ariz.
Sandy Mers, South Point Local Schools, Ohio
Diana Miller, Kileen Independent School District, Texas
Angela O'Dowd, New York City Public Schools, N.Y.
Yolanda Ortega, San Bernadino City Unified School District, Calif.
Krista Parent, South Lane School District, Ore.
Barbara Peters, Elmsford Union Free School District, N.Y.
Shelley Redinger, Oregon Trail School District. Ore.
Kristen Rex, Humboldt Unified School District, Ariz.
Marilou Ryder, Victor Valley Union High School District, Calif.
Amy Sichel, Abington School District, Pa.
Kathryn Simila, Houghton-Portage Township Schools, Mich.
Cynthia Speace, Wyomissing Area School District, Pa.
Susan Taylor, Pinellas County School System, Fla.
Delesa Thomas, Houston Independent School District, Texas
*Valerie Truesdale, Beaufort County School District, S.C.
Kathryn Turner, Fletcher Public Schools, Okla.
Melinda Turner, Owsley County Schools, Ky.
Nola Wellman, Eanes Independent School District, Texas
Judy White, San Bernadino City Unified School District, Calif.
Jane Wiebold, Wahoo Public Schools, Neb.
Heather Williams, Gooding Joint. School District, Idaho
Caroline Winchester, Chadron Public Schools, Neb.
Mary Yilk, Doniphan-Trumbull Public School, Neb.
Alisa Zapata, Houston Independent School District, Texas

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 or on Facebook at

About Farmers Group Inc.

Farmers Group Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Zurich Financial Services, an insurance-basedfinancial 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. Farmers® is the nation's third-largest Personal Lines Property & Casualty insurance group. Property and casualty products are underwritten and issued by the Farmers Exchanges and their subsidiaries, which Farmers Group Inc. manages but does not own. 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.

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