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Superintendent Garza speaks with an elementary student. Garza hopes to reduce achievement gaps between white students and minority students.

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 had been principal of Columbine High School in Colorado since 1996. After the shooting of April 1999, he promised the then-ninth grade class he would not leave until they graduated.

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.

New Hartford Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez was formerly deputy superintendent in Montgomery County Schools in Maryland.

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.

Superintendent Pia Durkin visits classrooms in her district to learn about the students and staff and their needs.

Pia Durkin took the reins as superintendent of New Bedford Public Schools, one of the lowest-performing districts in Massachusetts, this past July facing a Herculean task.

Before moving to Atlanta Public Schools, Meria Carstarphen superintendent of the Austin ISD.

Atlanta superintendent chosen

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.

Since 2011, Superintendent Elizabeth Celania Fagen has helped shift Douglas County Schools from a good district to a great one.

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.

Test scores and graduation rates have risen steadily since Alberto Carvalho became Miami-Dade's superintendent in 2008.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho was named 2014 National Superintendent of the Year by the School Superintendents Association. Since he took the job in 2008, the district’s test scores and graduation rates have risen steadily. The district has also won awards for marked improvement in AP participation and performance.

Jason E. Glass is superintendent and chief learner at Eagle County Schools in Colorado.

All across the country, discussions around improving educator effectiveness and evaluation have become synonymous. Forces from state houses and federal agencies compel us to engage in the work of redesigning evaluation systems and to devise ways of using student outcomes as a significant part of that effort.

Superintendents and the evaluations they use are coming directly into the crosshairs.

Superintendent Art Fessler pursued creating the 21st Century Leadership Academy for his Illinois district administrators when he started working last summer. 

An instructor in a classroom addresses the students. “We’re going to discuss how to ask questions in a way that doesn’t sound threatening, but instead builds trust. Let’s look at some of the vocabulary we’re using now to interact with teachers and how, through word substitution, we can reshape those conversations to foster better outcomes.”

Superintendent Rod Thompson's suburban Minnesota district has grown from 3,500 students to 8,000.

In the past 15 years, the Shakopee School District, in a suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul, has grown from 3,500 students to 8,000. The district is averaging 300 new students and 50-60 new teachers per year. We spoke with Superintendent Rod Thompson, who attended the San Antonio District Administration Leadership Institute Summit in November, about the challenges and opportunities of continued growth.