Jon Collins, Superintendent, West Memphis School District, West Memphis, Ark. and Tony Thurman, Superintendent, Cabot School District, Cabot, Ark.
Arkansas: Leaders Matter
Nominated By: Richard Abernathy, Executive Director, Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators
Jon Collins, Superintendent, West Memphis School District, West Memphis, Ark. Jon Collins (https://www.wmsd.net/administration) served as a high school principal before becoming superintendent in his district. Located in the heart of the Arkansas Delta, the district faces—and its leaders need to address—myriad issues related to poverty. In his tenure as superintendent, Collins spearheaded a building program where he renovated nearly all the school buildings in the district. He was able to accomplish this feat with strong community and staff support, even in a community with low property wealth. He also partnered with Mid-State Technical College to develop a career-training program for his students, who can leverage this partnership to attend technical programs and earn a certificate ready for employment in a promising career field in Eastern Arkansas or in Memphis.
Exemplars of Leadership:
- Addressed legacy of poverty.
- Revitalized facilities in low property wealth environment.
- Created collaborative career training with higher education sensitive to the local economic demands for workforce.
Tony Thurman, Superintendent, Cabot School District, Cabot, Ark.
Tony Thurman (http://www.cabotschools.org/administration/superintendents-page) was the high school principal in Cabot before becoming the school district’s superintendent. Cabot is a growing district with high expectations. After becoming superintendent, Thurman developed a strong administrative team that has led Cabot to performance levels that few have obtained. One area of focus is the productive use of technology with an emphasis on social media. In addition, and as a product of his accomplishments, he has assumed a leadership role among Arkansas superintendents in which he interacts with his peers on creating high-performing school districts.
Exemplars of Leadership:
- Addressed needs of a fast-growing district without sacrificing high expectations.
- Developed and sustained a leadership team with the single focus on district mission.
- Embraced strong emphasis on technology development, including social media use.
- Collaborated with district leadership throughout the state.