Cedrick Gray named Superintendent of the Year by black educators

Virginia principal Amber Dortch recognized for excellence and innovation
By: | Issue: February, 2016
January 15, 2016

Cedrick Gray of Jackson Public Schools in Mississippi was named 2015 Superintendent of the Year by the National Alliance of Black School Educators in November. The award goes to an administrator whose leadership has brought significant improvements for students of African descent.

Since Gray became superintendent in 2012, the district’s state and national accreditation was restored, graduation rates increased and dropout rates decreased.

Amber Dortch, principal of Hugo A. Owens Middle School, part of Chesapeake Public Schools in Virginia, received the $25,000 Milken Educator Award in December. The state award recognizes teachers, principals and other public school educators who promote excellence and innovation.

Dortch has been principal of the school since 2013, and has maintained the full accreditation rating. In 2014-15, 83 percent of students passed state reading tests, up 10 percent from the previous year.

Superintendent Jay Eitner of Waterford Township School District in New Jersey was named the 2015 Educator’s Voice Superintendent of the Year at the 2015 Annual Bammy Awards. The award, presented by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences, honors education success across all disciplines.

Eitner recently received a White House MakerSpace distinction for his work building technology- focused curriculum and BYOD. He is a former teacher and assistant principal.

First-time principal Ben Williams will lead the first public all-boys high school in Washington, D.C., opening in August 2016. The school is part of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Empowering Males of Color Initiative, and will open with a group of ninth-graders, adding a new grade each year.

Williams served as associate principal at the D.C. magnet School Without Walls at Francis-Stevens Education Campus, where he was awarded the 2015 Gary Rubenstein award for Highly Effective Leadership.

Superintendent Maria Armstrong of Woodland Joint USD in central California received a Latina Estrella Award from the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in December. Armstrong was previously a teacher, counselor, liaison for migrant students, principal and deputy school superintendent.

She became superintendent at Woodlawn in 2014, a district of 10,100 students with a 67 percent Latino population, and 27 percent ELL. Since taking the job, she has linked students to performing arts programs at a local university and created a program for parents to learn how to navigate the public education system.