First-Ever Class of AASA-MASA Academy: Aspiring & Early Career Superintendents Complete Leadership Program


James Minichello
703-774-6953 (cell)

The Mississippi Association of School Administrators
Lisa Karmacharya

National Academy Created to Bolster Leadership in Public School Districts

Alexandria, Va. – (June 4, 2018) – AASA, The School Superintendents Association and the Mississippi Association of School Administrators (MASA) are pleased to announce the first-ever class of superintendents and other school district administrators who have successfully completed the Aspiring and Early Career Leaders Academy, a professional development initiative to bolster school district leadership.

The Academy is an 8-month, blended learning experience for those who aspire to become school superintendents and those in their first two years on the job. The program is comprised of AASA learning content, delivered through technology from the National Excellence in School Leadership Initiative (NESLI).
“Early career and aspiring superintendents across the country are constantly searching for ways to enhance their skills to create more pathways that will yield positive student outcomes,” said Lisa Karmacharya, executive director, MASA. “This unique partnership between MASA and AASA provides district administrators with opportunities to strengthen their leadership skills and prepares aspiring superintendents for a complex and rewarding job. We applaud the first cohort of outstanding school system leaders graduating from our program.”

The course included Mississippi-specific content plus the five modules below:
  • Know Thyself/Framing Superintendent Role
  • Communication and Situational Leadership
  • Leading and Connecting for the 22nd Century
  • School Board and Community Relations
  • Human Capital Development and Supervision

Illinois superintendents Mike Lubelfeld and Nick Polyak, co-chairs of AASA’s Digital Consortium, and moderators of the monthly #Suptchat program (via Twitter) served as leaders of the Academy. “Mike and I had the opportunity to participate in AASA’s National Superintendent Certification Program® and we learned firsthand about working with like-minded people from across the country toward a common goal—about being the best superintendents we can be,” said Polyak. “The Academy is a professional development opportunity to raise the bar for the individuals leading our school districts. I congratulate our inaugural cohort.”

“We are here to usher in a new generation of superintendents who are steadfastly committed to raising academic outcomes in their school districts on behalf of the students and communities they serve,” said Lubelfeld.

Mississippi superintendents Ronnie McGehee (Madison County School District) and Cederick Ellis (McComb School District) were also instrumental toward the success of the program. They served as Academy mentors, specifically regarding the nuances of school district leadership in Mississippi.   

Members of the 2017-18 Aspiring and Early Career Leaders Academy include the following:
  • John-Mark Cain, deputy superintendent, Scott County School District, Forest, Miss.
  • Amy Carter, superintendent, Meridian Public School District, Meridian, Miss.
  • DeShannon Davis, director, federal programs, Lauderdale County School District, Meridian, Miss.
  • John Ellison, principal, Houston School District, Houston, Miss.
  • Lance Evans, superintendent, New Albany City Schools, New Albany, Miss.
  • Timothy Holland, principal, Long Beach School District, Long Beach, Miss.
  • Paul Lawrence, principal, Simpson County School District, Mendenhall, Miss.
  • Michael Lindsey, principal, Gulfport School District, Gulfport, Miss.
  • Greg Paczak, director, research development, Madison County Schools, Ridgeland, Miss.
  • Eddie Peasant, superintendent, Starkville Oktibbeha School District, Starkville, Miss.
  • Bridgett Wheaton, principal, Holmes County School District, Lexington, Miss.
  • Adrienne Williams, vice president and chief academic officer, Smart Educational Solutions, Byram, Miss. 

For more information regarding our 2018-2019 cohort application process visit contact Mort Sherman at or Lisa Karmacharya at


About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, 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

About MASA
The Mississippi Association of School Administrators (MASA) is the oldest educational organization in Mississippi serving administrators across our great state. MASA is proud to be the state affiliate for AASA, The American Association of School Administrators, The School Superintendent's Association.