Dr. Pujol named finalist for 2015 National Superintendent of the Year


Ascension Parish School Board Superintendent Dr. Patrice Pujol was named a finalist for the 2015 National Superintendent of the Year award, announced last week by the AASA, The School Superintendents Association. Dr. Pujol said she’s extremely “honored and humbled to be able to represent the work of educators across the state and the outstanding work of our phenomenal Ascension team of leaders and teachers on a national stage.”

“Louisiana is often denigrated for its educational system,” Dr. Pujol said. “It is a privilege to be able to represent our hard work in such a positive light.”

In November, Dr. Pujol was named Louisiana State Superintendent of the Year as she leads the Ascension School District to the number 4 ranking in performance in the state. Under her leadership, Ascension has consistently been amongst the top in education achievement by the state and at the national level. Now, it’s her turn.

“Ascension has been highlighted nationally several times in the past few years--both with awards and with inclusion in national publications for our best practices that have resulted in improved student achievement,” Dr. Pujol said. “I think this recognition speaks to the innovation, passion, and professional expertise demonstrated by our district and school leaders and by our teachers.”

“We have created a collective vision of high levels of learning for all students, and our educators work diligently every day to make that vision a reality in our classrooms,” Dr. Pujol said.

This year marks the 28th anniversary of the program, which honors school system leaders throughout the country, and the 2015 National Superintendent of the Year will be announced during AASA’s 150th anniversary celebration at the National Conference on Education, Feb. 26-28, 2015, in San Diego, Calif.

The four finalists for the 2015 AASA National Superintendent of the Year are:

MaryEllen Elia, Hillsborough County Public Schools, Tampa, Fla.

Elia, a lifelong educator, began her career as a social studies teacher in the state of New York in 1970. In 1986, she relocated to the Tampa Bay area after accepting a position at Plant High School as a reading resource specialist. She was promoted to several key positions in the district over the next 20 years. Elia was named the 2014 Florida Excellence in Education Award winner by AdvancED/SACS. In 2013, she was honored as the Just Read! Florida Superintendent of the Year, as well as the Tampa Bay Business Journal Woman of the Year.

Philip Lanoue, Clarke County School District, Athens, Ga.

With a proven track record in leading school reform and building positive community/school relationships, Lanoue’s leadership experience transcends geographical regions and has included rural, suburban and urban settings. Under his leadership, the Clarke County School District has been honored as a Title I Distinguished District for being Georgia’s No. 1 large district in closing the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students. Lanoue has consistently brought schools and districts to higher levels of academic achievement, and the district’s graduation rate is now above the state average in every subgroup. The district is also one of the 2013 & 2014 Best Communities in Music Education as named by the National Association of Music Merchants.

Patrick Murphy, Arlington Public Schools, Arlington, Va. 

Murphy is a native of Northern Virginia, current resident of Arlington County and has been an educator since 1988. Since joining APS as superintendent, Murphy has focused on academic rigor, and academic and course planning. He has also highlighted the continuum of the educational journey for students from pre-kindergarten through post-secondary, emphasizing preparation of students and families to ensure successful transitions between all school levels (elementary to middle, middle to high and high to post-secondary opportunities). His continuous improvement efforts led to the recent Medallion of Excellence awarded to Arlington Public Schools by the U.S. Senate Productivity Quality Award - Virginia touting APS’s alignment with the Baldrige criteria.

Patrice Pujol, Ascension Public Schools, Donaldsonville, La. 

Pujol is a 38-year educator who has long been at the forefront of school and district improvement efforts. She was the principal of St. Amant High School, where she used innovative scheduling models to drive improved teaching and learning. She has served as the director of secondary schools, the director of school improvement, and assistant superintendent for the Ascension Parish School System. Pujol has initiated and implemented such innovations as the instructional coach program, district wide curriculum framework with benchmark assessments, and a leadership assessment and development program. Her district has implemented an aggressive plan to provide one-to-one computing devices to all students in order to transform the teaching and learning experience.

“As a founding sponsor of AASA’s National Superintendent of the Year program, Aramark congratulates the four finalists we are announcing today,” said Jeff Gilliam, president, Aramark. “We thank these talented educators for their hard work and dedication to ensuring brighter futures for the students in their respective school districts. We are proud to partner with AASA and VALIC in this important program.”

“On behalf of everyone working to improve student success and provide quality public education for our nation’s children, it is an honor to congratulate the finalists for the 2015 AASA National Superintendent of the Year,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “These individuals are dedicated to ensuring that students in their school systems receive the best education possible. We look forward to honoring these outstanding superintendents as well as all of the State Superintendents of the Year when we celebrate our 150th anniversary at the National Conference on Education in February.”

The AASA National Superintendent of the Year program is open to all U.S. superintendents who plan to continue in the profession. The program also honors Canadian and International School superintendents. The applicants were measured against the following criteria:

•           Leadership for learning – creativity in successfully meeting the needs of students in the 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.

A $10,000 college scholarship will be presented in the name of the 2015 AASA National Superintendent of the Year to a student in the high school from which the superintendent graduated, or the school now serving the same area.