Finalists for 2012 AASA Women in School Leadership Award


Contact: Kitty Porterfield, 703-774-6953,

Arlington, Va., October 20, 2011 - Four finalists for the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) Women in School Leadership Awards were announced at the Association of California School Administrators/AASA Women in School Leadership Forum held in San Diego, CA, on Oct. 20, 2011. Co-sponsored by Farmers Insurance, 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.

Candidates are judged based on leadership in meeting the learning needs of students, personal and organizational communication strength, constant professional improvement of knowledge and skills, and active community involvement. Twenty-two women from across the country were nominated for the awards: 8 superintendents, 6 assistant superintendents, 3 central office leaders, and 5 principals.

The finalists are:

Lisa Gonzales, Coordinator, Curriculum and Instruction, Santa Clara Office of Education, CA. Lisa Gonzales is an educational leader whose skills in building relationships with the community lead to student success. Through her involvement with the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, she works side-by-side with business representatives and government officials to implement change in the classroom, especially in the area of visual and performing arts.

Sandra Lewandowski, Superintendent, Intermediate District 287, Plymouth, MN. In Superintendent Lewandowski, ‘at-risk’ students have their biggest champion. She fights for special needs students to attend school in facilities that match the quality of accommodations we expect for traditional high schools. She spearheads efforts to raise the quality and expectations of alternative schools and works tirelessly at the local and state level to raise awareness of children’s mental health issues.

Jane Pruitt, High School Principal and Career and Technical Education (CTE) Supervisor of Instruction, Worcester County Public Schools, MD. Results of Jane Pruitt’s leadership include the building of a new technical high school, the expansion and improvement of the CTE instructional program offerings, increased involvement of the business community and higher levels of student academic and technical achievement. As a high school principal and a countywide supervisor for CTE, Pruitt utilizes effective school improvement planning techniques, knows how to access needed resources, and develops award-winning teachers.

Marilyn Shepherd, Superintendent, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, CA

Marilyn Shepherd is known for her ability to implement large-scale change. She is committed to a systematic approach to improving the quality of teaching and learning by making professional development a priority. She is a risk-taker who led her district through a successful bond campaign and has begun the arduous task of overcoming fiscal challenges and improving test scores.

“These finalists are testament to the depth and strength of women’s leadership in American public education today,” commented AASA executive director Daniel A. Domenech. “They are among our very best.”

The final award recipients, one each in the superintendent/assistant superintendent category and the central office/principal/specialist category, will be announced during the AASA 2012 National Conference on Education, Feb. 16-19, in Houston, TX.



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

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