Dr. Michelle King, Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District in California, has been named NASS Superintendent of the Year for 2017.
“I am truly honored to receive this acknowledgement from NASS,” King said. “Education leaders must be student advocates and that work doesn’t end at 5:00. We are advocates 24 hours a day and I enjoy that challenge.”
Dr. King is a product of LA Unified, entering the district in kindergarten. She returned to the district as a secondary school life sciences teacher in 1985 and and has served in a number of capacities within the district, including principal and senior deputy superintendent. She became district superintendent in 2015.
L.A. Unified is the second largest public school district in the United States, with nearly 650,000 students and more than a thousand school campuses. In a district where high numbers of students come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds or are children of recent immigrants working to attain proficiency in English, Dr. King actively promotes the notion that the road to graduation begins as early as preschool.
Dr. King believes that the way students learn has changed dramatically as instructional technology has evolved. She actively promotes exploration and utilization of new technologies to provide more personalized instruction for all student needs. She has championed the recommendations made by the district’s Instructional Technology Initiative task force—a collaborative of teachers, parents, administrators, and technology resource experts to guide the district in continuing to shape the learning environment that will prepare students for success in a global 21st century workforce. She has also been a strong supporter of the state’s new accountability system, the California School Dashboard, which provides real-time information on school performance.
King believes the path to a successful education must include a nurturing environment where every student feels a sense of belonging. She has been a strong proponent of improving the social climate at schools through restorative justice, an approach to discipline that shifts the focus away from punishment and toward deeper and longer-term supports that set students on an upward path toward good behavior and citizenship. The program has led to reductions in suspensions and absenteeism while promoting long lasting, pro-social relationships and a positive school-going culture.
King has also worked closely with school operations and police to promote safe school plans addressing violence prevention, emergency preparedness, traffic safety, and crisis intervention.
“Michelle exemplifies what it takes to be a leader,” said Dr. Sonny Da Marto, NASS’ chairman of the awards committee. “She has a mindset in place to confront equity issues and the achievement gap and has a strategy in place to do what is best for all students.”
Other finalists for the award include Dr. Eric Andrew of Campbell USD (Ca.) , Dr. Darrell Adams of Coachella Valley USD (Ca.), Dr. Ron Williams of Victor Valley UHSD (Ca.), and Allan Cameron of Wrentham Public Schools (Ma.).
King will be honored at the 2017 NASS Leadership Conference, October 1-3 in Alexandria, VA. Registration is now open at nass.org.