Emerging Leaders in K-12 Education Complete AASA’s Aspiring Superintendents Academy®


James Minichello
703-774-6953 (cell)

Alexandria, Va. – May 9, 2019 –AASA, The School Superintendents Association, is pleased to announce the third class of educators to graduate from the organization’s Aspiring Superintendents Academy®, a highly interactive year-long program that provides real-world skills our next generation of superintendents need to thrive.

This group of aspiring superintendents completed 10 months of intensive coursework on leadership topics such as Leading with a Vision for Excellence, Effective Community and Stakeholder Communications and Engagement, and Working Effectively with the School Board. Participants also completed a capstone project on school leadership.

“I commend the educators graduating from our program for taking on the challenge of growing their careers, not only for their own benefit but, more importantly, for the young learners in their respective communities,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “These individuals are now part of the AASA family and will have a robust network of school system leaders they can call on to seek assistance and share winning strategies. Congratulations to our newest class of academy graduates.”     

The Aspiring Superintendents Academy®:
  • Develops a professional practice grounded in evidence-based knowledge, skills and dispositions.
  • Drives certification and effective transition for participants into their first position as superintendent.
  • Leverages an unparalleled network of peers and renowned leaders.

David R. Schuler, the 2018 AASA National Superintendent of the Year® and superintendent of Township High School District 214 in Arlington Heights, Ill., served as lead instructor of the program. “The academy is a professional development program tailored specifically for educators who wish to reach the highest level of school district leadership. The professional growth and networking opportunities for participants are outstanding as the program has already impacted the careers of many prior attendees.”

The Aspiring Superintendents Academy® is graciously sponsored by Champions Before- and After-School Programs, a member of the KinderCare Education family of brands. KinderCare is the nation’s largest private provider of early childhood education and care. 

VIDEO: Attendees from a previous cohort describe their experiences participating in the program.

The following list is comprised of the Aspiring Superintendents Academy® graduates who will be honored at AASA’s 2020 National Conference on Education in San Diego next February.  

  • Fernando Benavides, principal, Arlington Independent School District, Arlington, Texas
  • Marlinda Boxley, senior project director, Innovation in Education Reform, Bethesda, Md.
  • Jeff Bresler, assistant superintendent, Mehlville School District, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Stephen Burnham, principal, Wilson School District, Sinking Spring, Pa.
  • Rick Carter, director of innovative programs, Athens City Schools, Athens, Ala.
  • Erika Cook, bureau chief, leading, teaching, learning services, Iowa Department of Education, Des Moines, Iowa
  • Natalyn Gibbs, principal, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Alesia Gillison, chief academic officer, Columbus City Schools, Columbus, Ohio
  • Douglas Kent, assistant principal, Radnor Township School District, Wayne, Pa.
  • Debra Lane, director, talent development, Alexandria City Public Schools, Alexandria, Va.
  • Nancy Martinez, assistant principal, Orange County Public Schools, Orlando, Fla.
  • Margaret McGregor, instructional support leader, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, Ill. 
  • Terry Morawski, deputy superintendent, Fort Smith School District, Fort Smith, Ark.
  • Kelvin Stroy, director of student services, Mansfield Independent School District, Mansfield, Texas
  • Patricia Sullivan Kowalski, senior director, student supports and special education, Meriden Public Schools, Meriden, Conn.
  • Tamara Vardy, director of campus support, Mansfield Independent School District, Mansfield, Texas
  • Brent Yeager, assistant superintendent for learning services, Olathe Public Schools, Olathe, Kan.
  • James Zavodjancik, principal, Shelton Public Schools, Shelton, Conn.

For more information about AASA’s Aspiring Superintendents Academy®, contact Mort Sherman, AASA associate executive director, leadership network, at msherman@aasa.org.  


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 equitable access for all students to the highest quality public education. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.