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 Harrisonburg City Public Schools Superintendent Scott Kizner has seen the refugee population more than double in six years.

Tucked among the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia is a high-poverty school district that looks a lot like the United Nations. And helping Kurdish, Eritrean and Paraguayan refugee students become part of the social fabric is something Harrisonburg City Public Schools Superintendent Scott Kizner is most proud of.

Since Cedrick Gray Gray became superintendent of Jackson Public Schools in 2012, the Mississippi district’s state and national accreditation was restored, graduation rates increased and dropout rates decreased.

Cedrick Gray of Jackson Public Schools in Mississippi was named 2015 Superintendent of the Year by the National Alliance of Black School Educators in November. The award goes to an administrator whose leadership has brought significant improvements for students of African descent.

Luvenia Jackson knows students can’t learn when they’re in jail. During 40 years in education, the Clayton County Public Schools superintendent has seen that academic performance cannot improve systemwide under zero-tolerance discipline.

Robert L. Urzillo is superintendent of the Blue Mountain School District in Pennsylvania.

The reform movement has been, and perhaps always will be, on-going.

We have witnessed the enactment of No Child Left Behind, which had the admirable goal of having all children read on grade level by 2014. That was followed by Race to the Top, another program that required standardized testing.

"The Importance of Being Little" offers a new vision for preschool and kindergarten instruction.

The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups

Viking

Children come into the world hardwired to learn in virtually any setting and about any matter. Yet in today’s preschool and kindergarten classrooms, learning has been reduced to scripted lessons and suspect metrics that too often undervalue a child’s intelligence while overtaxing the child’s growing brain.

Malika Anderson's takes over Tennessee's Achievement School District, a state-run, turnaround district.

Malika Anderson became superintendent of the Achievement School District in Tennessee this month. She had been the district’s No. 2 official.

The state-run, turnaround district was created in 2010 with a Race to the Top grant. It takes the bottom-performing 5 percent of schools in the state and assigns them to charter operators to help move them to the top 25 percent.

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.

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