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Portrait of a Leader

KANSAS CITY, Kansas—Superintendent Cynthia Lane learned the cello a few years ago, but not to fulfill some lifelong dream of soloing with the local symphony. The leader of Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools now performs alongside fourth- and fifth-graders in their annual spring strings concert.

Kent Scribner, in middle, celebrates witih Camelback High School students at their graduation last spring. He focuses on not just graduating students, but having them be prepared for college and life.

You could say it’s understandable that Kent Scribner’s hobby is working on a 1985 black El Camino. Refurbishing a car takes patience, dedication and an eye for potential. Those are the same qualities this superintendent has been bringing to the Phoenix Union High School District in Arizona since taking over in 2008.

Superintendent Alvin Crawley expects enrollment in Alexandria City Schools to surpass 16,000 over the next five years.

Alvin Crawley, superintendent of the Alexandria City Public Schools in Virginia, was the first in his family to attend college.

He grew up in Richmond, Va., with his parents, who never finished high school, and an older brother. His father was a supervisor at American Tobacco Company.

His guidance counselor at George Woods High School in the Richmond School District took him under her wing, and sent him on an 81-mile bus trip to visit Hampton Institute, which is now Hampton University. He was enthralled, and he later enrolled.