Delaware superintendent in the running for national recognition

Four finalists have been named in the 2012 National Superintendent of the Year program, and one of them happens to be from Delaware, Sussex County specifically.

Dr. Susan Smith Bunting is the superintendent of the Indian River School District. Humbled by the nomination, she now competes for the title against superintendents from North Carolina, Nevada and Virginia.

“My initial reaction was absolute shock,” said Dr. Bunting. “Delaware’s a tiny, little state, I’m just a tiny, little person. It was a huge honor to be considered as one of the finalists.”

The four national finalists are:

Diane L. Frost, superintendent, Asheboro City Schools, Asheboro, N.C.
Heath Morrison, superintendent, Washoe County School District¸ Reno, Nev.
Lorraine Lange, superintendent, Roanoke County Public Schools, Roanoke, Va.
Susan Smith Bunting, superintendent, Indian River School District, Selbyville, Del.

They were chosen from 49 other State Superintendent of the Year finalists and will face a national blue-ribbon selection panel of educators, business and government leaders at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. next Tuesday.

The program is in its 25th year and honors the contributions and leadership of public school superintendents. Co-sponsors this year are ARAMARK Education, ING and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA).

“AASA is pleased to recognize these four outstanding superintendents,” said AASA Executive Director Daniel A. Domenech. “Their dedication to transforming schools, providing quality education for all students and working with the school community to advance student success represents the best in school system leadership today.”

“The idea that what we’re doing here in Delaware would be recognized by the entire nation is a totally different ballgame,” said Bunting.

Bunting says a number of students in her district are English language learners and living in poverty, with about 60 percent of Indian River School District students on free and reduced lunch. Despite that, Buntings says, in her district, grades 3, 5, 8 and 10, place first, second and third in the state in all of the core subjects, with the exception of 3rd grade reading this year, which placed fourth. Bunting attributes the success to the “Leadership Institute,” a program that develops principals in her district into strong, collaborative leaders. Secondly, Bunting says a teaching program called “Learning Focused Strategies” that is implemented in her schools has made an amazing difference.

AASA will announce the winner on Feb. 16 at the National Conference on Education in Houston, Texas.

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