Teresa White, Superintendent, Douglas County School District, Minden, Nev., and David Jensen, Superintendent, Humboldt County School District, Winnemucca, Nev.
Nevada: Leaders Matter
Nominated By: Robert M. Slaby, Executive Director, Nevada Association of School Administrators
Teresa White, Superintendent, Douglas County School District, Minden, Nev.
Teresa White describes her position as superintendent as responsible to educate roughly 5,900 students in 12 schools.
The Douglas County School District is one of the highest performing in the state with a National Blue-Ribbon School in Piñon Hills Elementary and four 5-Star schools, a graduation rate of 87 percent and an average ACT composite score of 19.4. The district has worked hard to ensure quality instruction in every classroom and started this year with a device for every student. The district has a professional development staff of five trainers and is embarking on the work of digital convergence under the work of Modern Teacher. The district has hosted a technology conference for three years where teachers train teachers and are planning its first Learning Forum where staff will bring all practitioners together to learn from one another. The instructional staff of Douglas County is among the finest anywhere and work hard with students to ensure high levels of achievement.
Exemplars of Leadership:
- Sustained strong student performance.
- Maintained high performance standards for teachers and staff.
- Obtained nation recognition for outstanding performance.
David Jensen, Superintendent, Humboldt County School District, Winnemucca, Nev.
When David Jensen entered the Humboldt County School District as superintendent, the graduation rate was 63 percent. For the 2017 cohort, it grew to 89.5 percent, a growth of 26 percent. The following contributed to the growth:
– As a collective district, initial discussions centered around taking responsibility for every student in the district. No excuses (transient, didn’t care, moved and not tracked, parents not engaged, etc.). The superintendent promoted “owning” every student.
– The district made a shift that states, “Graduation starts in Pre-Kindergarten” – as such graduation isn’t just a high school issue, rather a systems responsibility.
– Once hired as superintendent, Jensen developed his executive team based on the specific skill set that our district needed.
Included were efforts to ramp up over the past two school years.
- Firmed up the district’s understanding of assessments – formative, summative and interim.
- Laid out all the assessments being used in the district – whether district mandated, state mandated, grade level/content/teacher created – the district determined based on learning around what each assessment type was, what the purpose for the assessment is, what the data is used for, etc.
- Developed and administered a teacher survey and learned much from specific teacher feedback on assessment.
- Collected all our assessments in the district.
- Focused on shifts in both ELA and Math and the impact those shifts have on teaching and learning.
- Analyzed the assessments – asking which met the level of the standards and rigor expected with Nevada Academic Content Standards (Common Core).
- As a leadership team (central office, principals, teacher leaders) the district’s vision for assessments.
- From there developed assessment guidance and made collective commitments to the guidance as a team.
- Researched and engaged in hard conversations around curriculum, instruction, assessment and a need to ensure the district put the best materials in front of teachers and students, and provided the right type of supports and understanding around the standards
- Spent more than a year developing a comprehensive Strategic Plan, based on feedback from administration, principals, board, teacher leaders and leadership teams.
Exemplars of Leadership:
- Articulated clear and decisive plan for improvement of student achievement.
- Implemented the plan for district improvement with “no excuses” tolerated.
- Engaged staff in their professional development.
To learn more about the superintendents profiled in AASA’s Leaders Matter campaign, visit http://aasacentral.org/leadersmatter/. To join the conversation via Twitter, please access #LeadersMatter.