Superintendent Grayling Tobias of the Hazelwood School District in St. Louis County, Mo., started school as planned in August, despite the recent death of an unarmed 18-year-old who was shot multiple times in a confrontation with police in Ferguson, Mo.
Tobias arranged for extra police patrols at all buildings, and asked principals, social workers and counselors to be visible for students who need to talk or express their feelings.
Jerri Lynn Lippert was named the first female superintendent of the West Allegheny School District in Pennsylvania in June. She was the chief academic officer of Pittsburgh Public Schools, and started in West Allegheny in July.
Research shows that good teachers and principals are highly correlated with higher student achievement.
Several ongoing education programs on national and district levels are working to prepare the next generation of teachers and principals throughout the country. However, research also shows effective district leadership is also vital for high student achievement.
When Superintendent Karen Garza started her job at Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia last July, she had barely unpacked when she found a perfect storm of budget planning: increased enrollment, deferred retirement system contributions and a major uptick in students needing ESOL services.
Frank DeAngelis, principal of Columbine High School in Colorado, retired in June. He had been the principal since 1996. After the shooting of April 1999, he promised the then-ninth grade class he would not leave until they graduated. In 2012, he graduated students who were in kindergarten at the time of the shooting.
Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, a deputy superintendent in Montgomery County Schools in Maryland, was named superintendent of Hartford Public Schools in Connecticut in April. She has worked in Montgomery County since 2011, where she oversees the district’s 202 schools and supervises principals. She will start the job in Hartford on July 1.
Meria Carstarphen was named superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools. She has served as superintendent of the Austin ISD in Texas since 2009, and helped raise graduation rates to an all-time high of nearly 83 percent in 2012. She will start the Atlanta job in July.
In the last year, the Douglas County School District in suburban Denver has been called a national model by former U.S. secretary of education William J. Bennett and “the most interesting school district in America” by the American Enterprise Institute.