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Superintendent Kathy Kelly worked with the local police to create outreach programs so students could interact with officers.

Kathy Kelly, superintendent of Columbia Heights Public Schools in Minnesota, received the 2015 L. Anthony Sutin Civic Imagination Award from the U.S. Department of Justice. The award recognizes Kelly’s efforts to build trust between law enforcement and students.

Working with the local police chief, Kelly instituted youth outreach programs designed to provide students with opportunities to interact with law enforcement and create an open dialogue. Juvenile arrests in the town dropped from 243 in 2007 to 106 in 2014. And K12 suspensions are down 130 percent.

Sheila M. Harrity is superintendent-director of Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School District in Massachusetts.

When Sheila M. Harrity became superintendent-director of Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School District—better known as Monty Tech—she hit the ground running, transforming programs and searching out partnerships to ensure her students find good work right out of school or attend college.

Former New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott

Former New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott was appointed by the state in August to lead a team studying the troubled East Ramapo Central School District in New York. Last fall, a state investigation found that the district’s school board members diverted money from public schools to children attending private religious institutions, leaving the district in financial trouble.

Walcott’s team will study the district’s operations and offer recommendations to the school board.

Superintendent David Tebo has helped established comprehensive career programs in his western Michigan district.

Superintendent David Tebo, and administrators in Hamilton Community Schools in western Michigan, develop partnerships with local employers and community organizations to offer students work experiences meant to foster a school-to-career mindset.

Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Ahart has tried to instill greater pride in his district’s urban schools.
Des Moines Public Schools celebrates its diversity in a state that remains predominantly white. A quarter of its students are Hispanic and nearly 18 percent are African American. About 100 different languages are spoken among the student body that includes refugees from Myanmar and Nepal.
Students created and set up colorful poles on the lawn of Findley Elementary, a high poverty school where many students receive free or reduced-price lunch.
Art teacher Lisa Hesse shows off Findley Elementary’s movable “Living Wall,” where students have combined arts and gardening in an eye-pleasing project examining how plants grow.
Des Moines’ Central Campus, a regional technical high school, offers a wide range of career-focused programs, including an extensive marine biology lab that students tend to 365 days a year.
Graduation rates have been rising steadily during Ahart’s tenure. The Class of 2014 hit an all-time high of nearly 82 percent, a 2.5 percent increase over the previous year.
About 100 different languages are spoken among the student body that includes refugees from Myanmar and Nepal.
Technology has played a major role in Des Moines' turnaround. It was one of the first district's in Iowa to launch a high school 1-to-1 program.
Art teacher Lisa Hesse leads students through movements to help them pay better attention during instruction time.

Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Ahart strives to bring equity, pride and higher achievement to a once-struggling district that is far more diverse than the rest of Iowa. A garden of multicolored poles students have installed outside one low-income school taunt would-be vandals and represents Ahart's belief in the transformative power of education.

New Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool takes over a district grappling with a budget shortfall of about $1.1 billion.

Forrest Claypool, a top aide to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, was named CEO of Chicago Public Schools in July. Previous CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennet resigned in June amid a federal investigation into a $20.5 million no-bid contract awarded by the school board to her previous employer.

New National Association of School Nurses president Beth Mattey is the school nurse at Mt. Pleasant High School in Delaware.

Beth Mattey was named president of the National Association of School Nurses in June. Mattey is the school nurse at Mt. Pleasant High School, part of Brandywine School District in Delaware. In her remarks at the group’s annual conference in June, Mattey said that school nursing is the foundation of healthy schools.

New Birmingham Superintendent Kelley Castlin-Gacutan is a native of the area and formerly served as  interim superintendent for Bibb County Schools in Georgia.

Kelley Castlin-Gacutan was unanimously chosen superintendent of Alabama’s Birmingham City Schools in May. Birmingham City is the fourth-largest district in the state, with more than 30,000 students.

Superintendent Darwin Stiffler has raised achievement for migrant students in his Yuma, Arizona district.

Driven by a passion to create an environment where teachers and students can reach full potential, Superintendent Darwin Stiffler has implemented programs to support the migrant workers and military families whose children attend the Yuma Elementary School District in Arizona.

Curtis Jones is the first permanent superintendent in two years at Georgia's Bibb County School District.

Curtis Jones began his job as the new superintendent of Bibb County School District in Georgia in April. On his first day on the job, he met with every school board member.

His first task was finalizing the board’s governance handbook and the 2016 district budget. Jones says he also wants to focus on the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support program the district implemented this year.