Movers and Shakers: School leaders take on student success initiatives, change districts

By: | Issue: June, 2019
May 16, 2019
Jeffery Smith (top, left) boosts graduation rate and lowers dropout rate for Virginia district; John Jungmann (top, right) launches Missouri district collaboratives; LeVar Ammons (bottom, left) becomes director of equity and student success in Illinois; and Michael Looney (bottom, right) is heading up a Georgia district.Jeffery Smith (top, left) boosts graduation rate and lowers dropout rate for Virginia district; John Jungmann (top, right) launches Missouri district collaboratives; LeVar Ammons (bottom, left) becomes director of equity and student success in Illinois; and Michael Looney (bottom, right) is heading up a Georgia district.

Under Jeffery Smith’s leadership, the number of students earning dual-enrollment credits has increased by 600% since he became superintendent of Hampton City Schools in Virginia four years ago. During the same period, dropouts decreased by more than 3%, while the percentage of students who graduated on time rose by 4.6%. Smith also helped lead the initiative to expand the number of career pathways that high schoolers can study from 18 to 41. 


In addition to recently deploying a 1-to-1 Chromebook initiative for grades 3 through 12, Superintendent John Jungmann of Springfield Public Schools in Missouri has launched a platform for educators to design and deliver online courses, and added credit recovery and career exploration summer programs. Jungmann also created a collaborative among area districts that provides project-based learning for high schoolers, and created another collaborative in which southwest Missouri school systems share resources, training and purchasing power.    


Read: Movers and Shakers: Lewis Ferebee takes helm at District of Columbia Public Schools


In July, LeVar J. Ammons will begin his role as director of equity and student success at Oak Park and River Forest High School in Illinois. Ammons comes from DuPage High School District 88, also in Illinois, where he serves on the equity task force that initiated a racial equity strategic plan for the DuPage County Regional Office of Education. Ammons also co-founded the Black Educators Network of Suburban Chicago and is a member of the Illinois Coalition of Educational Equity Leaders.


Michael Looney, former superintendent of Williamson County Schools in Tennessee, now heads Fulton County Schools in Georgia. At Fulton, Looney has created a recurring event that links the community with administrators and board members, and has overseen an increase in Fulton’s composite ACT and state test scores. Previously, Looney led Butler County Schools in Alabama and served as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in Montgomery Public Schools in Alabama.


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