AASA Honors Veteran Educators for Distinguished Service at National Conference on Education

February 17, 2024


James Minichello



San Diego, Calif.– Feb. 17, 2024AASA, The School Superintendents Association, honored three outstanding educators today, including the immediate past president of the association, with its Distinguished Service Awards. A ceremony to recognize these individuals was held during AASA’s National Conference on Education.

The 2024 honorees are:
  • Shari L. Camhi, superintendent, Baldwin Union Free School District, Baldwin, N.Y., and immediate past president of AASA
  • Blaine C. Hess, retired superintendent, Jackson County Schools, Ripley, W.Va.
  • Mark Joraanstad, retired executive director, Arizona School Administrators, Phoenix, Ariz.

“The individuals we are honoring all have outstanding track records on behalf of one of America’s most trusted resources—public education,” said David R. Schuler, executive director, AASA. “Shari Camhi, Blaine Hess and Mark Joraanstad have been dedicated professionals throughout their professional careers while ensuring the students they serve receive the best education and foundation to become productive citizens. AASA is honored to recognize these three champions during our national conference. We owe a debt of gratitude to them for the stellar work they have done and continue to do for the betterment of public schools in their own communities as well as across the country.”

Shari L. Camhi serves as the superintendent of Baldwin Union Free School District in Baldwin, N.Y.,and the immediate past president of AASA. With more than 30 years’ experience in both business and education, Camhi has received numerous accolades and recognition for her innovative contributions to K-12 instruction, including Education Week’s “Leaders to Learn From,” the National School Public Relation Association’s “New Superintendents to Watch” and Education Dive’s “Administrators to Watch.” She was also a recipient of the International Society of Technology in Education’s Sylvia Charp Award. She is frequently invited to present her work to experts and leaders in the field. In the spring of 2022, Baldwin Schools was named an AASA Learning 2025 Lighthouse Demonstration System for its efforts to focus on the whole child and future-driven education.

Blaine C. Hess, a public school educator for 39 years, retired in July 2022 after serving as superintendent Jackson County Schools, in Ripley, W.Va., a position he held for 16 years. Hess was named West Virginia’s Superintendent of the Year in 2013 and 2021, as well as 2017 Superintendent of the Year by the West Virginia Music Educators Association for his support of the arts. Hess served as president of the West Virginia Association of School Administrators in 2012 and 2020. He was a member of the AASA Governing Board from 2015 to 2019 and served on the organization’s executive committee from 2019 until his retirement in 2022.

Mark Joraanstad retired after six years as executive director of the Arizona School Administrators in Phoenix, Ariz., completing 50 years in education. He served eight years as superintendent of Saddle Mountain Unified School District in Tonopah, Ariz., leading the district out of receivership and through successful bond and override elections. A member of the North Dakota Speech/Theatre Hall of Fame, Joraanstad authored the national debate topic [JH1] in 1987-88. In 2015, he was named All-Arizona Superintendent of the Year for medium-sized districts.

Regarded as the most comprehensive professional learning and networking event for school superintendents and administrators, AASA’s National Conference on Education addresses the most critical issues affecting public education today, including Live Well. Lead Well. — health and well-being and self-care; redesigning learning; school environment and culture; school safety, finances and operations; and transformational learning and leading.

For more information about the conference, access AASA's Conference Daily Online.


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.