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AASA Announces Finalists for 2017 Superintendent of the Year

Finalists for the 2017 national superintendent of the year award were announced today by AASA, the School Superintendents Association.

The finalists are Barbara Jenkins of the Orange County, Fla., schools; Stewart McDonald of the Kodiak Island Borough school district in Kodiak, Alaska; James Merrill of the Wake County, N.C., schools; and Matthew Utterback of the North Clackamas schools in Milwaukie, Ore.

Jenkins has led the Orange County school system since 2012. During her tenure, the district won the 2014 Broad Prize for Urban Education.


McDonald will leave his job in June after serving 24 years in his Alaska district, including the last eight as superintendent. He tendered his resignation this past summer, but plans to continue working in education in the state.


Merrill was hired as Wake County's superintendent in 2013. Statewide recognition for his work is a common occurence: he was honored in 2005 as North Carolina's superintendent of the year when he led the Alamance-Burlington school system and Virginia's superintendent of the year in 2013 as chief of the Virginia Beach city schools, the Raleigh News and Observer reports.


Utterback has led the North Clackamas schools since 2012. The Oregonian reports that under his leadership, "the district's graduation rate and test scores went from mediocre to near-tops among large Oregon districts, even as tighter-than-average budgetary straits posed huge challenges."


The finalists were selected as winners in their individual states' contests for superintendent of the year. The national winner will be announced at AASA's annual conference in March in New Orleans.

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

AASA selected Thomas Tucker, the superintendent of Princeton City schools in Cincinnati, Ohio, as its 2016 Superintendent of the Year.


1. Barbara Jenkins of the Orange County school district in Orlando, Fla. 

2. Stewart McDonald of the Kodiak Island Borough school district in Kodiak, Alaska;

3. James Merrill of the Wake County, N.C., schools

4. Matthew Utterback of the North Clackamas schools in Milwaukie, Ore.

Image source: AASA, the School Superintendents Association

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