ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Mark A. Edwards, superintendent of Mooresville Graded School District has been named the 2013 AASA National Superintendent of the Year.
Edwards was honored today at the opening ceremony of the American Association of School Administrators’ National Conference on Education in Los Angeles.
Now in its 26th year, the National Superintendent of the Year program, co-sponsored by AASA, ARAMARK Education and VALIC, celebrates the contributions and leadership of public school superintendents.
In announcing the selection, Daniel Domenech, AASA executive director had high praise for Edwards.
“Mark Edwards is exactly the kind of superintendent we need to carry public education deep into the 21st century. He gets it. He has combined the savvy to lead a digital revolution in his schools with the wisdom to know that teachers teach their best and children learn their best in an environment that promotes mutual caring and respect.
“In his five years in Mooresville, Mark has taken a district that ranks 100 out of 115 in North Carolina in per pupil funding and led it to be a district that ranks 3rd in graduation rate and 2nd in academic composite. Along the way, he has engaged every corner of his community—parents, higher education, the business community—to support the changes. Mark has a clear vision and the commitment to make it happen.”
In 2007, when Edwards came to Mooresville—a district of 8 schools, 40 percent of whose children receive free or reduced-price lunch—his vision for preparing students for life in the 21st century included a laptop for every child in grades 4 through 12 for their 24/7 use and providing laptops at school for the children in grades K-3. He understood too that in order to sustain the changes he proposed and for the technology to be used effectively, the district also needed to institute comprehensive professional development opportunities for its teachers.
To accomplish these goals, among other things, Edwards created active parent and teacher advisory groups to help guide and support the initiatives. He also established an “Every Child, Every Day” culture throughout the district and reached out to parents of students of color to create new partnerships. Edwards is credited with enlisting the Chamber of Commerce, the town, a foundation and a local church to create a summer STEM program.
As a result, since 2007, MGSD’s academic achievement for students testing proficient or advanced on state end-of-grade tests has increased by 16 percentage points from 73 percent to 89 percent. The 4-year cohort graduation rate has improved by 13 percentage points, with 90 percent of seniors graduating. The college-going rate has increased from 74 to 88 percent. Edwards has become a sought-after speaker and leader. Said the executive director of Digital Promise, Edwards “has built perhaps the best model for driving student results with technology that a traditional public school district can replicate.”
Edwards holds a Ph.D. in education from Vanderbilt University, a M.Ed. in administration and supervision from Tennessee Technical University, and a B.S. in education from the University of Tennessee. Before coming to Mooresville, Edwards served as dean for the University of Northern Alabama’s School of Education, superintendent of Henrico Public Schools (VA) and superintendent of Danville Public Schools (VA). Edwards has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the 2001 Virginia State Superintendent of the Year, a 2002 Tech Savvy Superintendent by eSchool News, and the Community Leader Award from the Mooresville NAACP. Edwards has briefed Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on digital conversion and was asked to help launch Digital Promise at the White House. The district has been recognized in a PBS documentary and a February 2012 article in the New York Times.
"ARAMARK is happy to congratulate Mark A. Edwards for being named the 2013 National Superintendent of the Year. This tremendous honor recognizes his exceptional leadership, commitment to innovation, and dedication to promoting student achievement in the Mooresville Graded School District," said Dennis Maple, President, ARAMARK Education. "ARAMARK is honored to be a 26-year sponsor of the National Superintendent of the Year program. We sincerely thank all of our nation's superintendents, who work tirelessly to create learning environments that foster the sound academic growth and personal development of our children."
"As a proud sponsor of the 2013 National Superintendent of the Year Award, VALIC would like to send Mark A. Edwards its sincere congratulations and appreciation for his remarkable contributions to the students, staff and community of the Mooresville Graded School District," said Bruce Abrams, President and CEO of VALIC. "Mark, his fellow candidates and outstanding superintendents across the country have a profound positive impact on the development of their students, our leaders of tomorrow. We are honored to have this opportunity to recognize that impact and express our gratitude for their unwavering commitment to excellence in education."
As the 2013 National Superintendent of the Year honoree, Edwards is entitled to present a $10,000 college scholarship to a student at the high school from which he graduated.
A national blue ribbon panel of educators, business leaders and government officials selected Edwards from four national finalists. The other national finalists were:
• Wanda Cook-Robinson, superintendent, Southfield Public Schools, Southfield, Mich.
• C.J. Huff, superintendent, Joplin Public Schools, Joplin, Mo.
• Maryalice Russell, superintendent, McMinnville School District, McMinnville, Or.
The four national finalists were chosen from 49 state Superintendent of the Year finalists, all of whom represent excellence in school leadership nationwide. The annual awards program is open to all U.S. public school superintendents as well as superintendents in Canada and in American International Schools.
The national Superintendent of the Year finalists are measured against the following criteria:
• Leadership for learning – creativity in successfully meeting the needs of students in his or her school system.
• Communication – strength in both personal and organizational communication.
• Professionalism – constant improvement of administrative knowledge and skills, while providing professional development opportunities and motivation to others on the education team.
• Community involvement – active participation in local community activities and an understanding of regional, national and international issues.
More information on the Superintendent of the Year program and a list of the 49 state-level award winners can be found here.