EdWeek’s Leaders To Learn From Spotlights 12 Innovative District Leaders

By Denisa R. Superville — February 19, 2020 2 min read
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A food and nutrition services director in Greenville, S.C., who believes that healthy school meals are good for students and for the district’s bottom line—and that students should be a part of developing the menus.

A superintendent in Chattanooga, Tenn., who developed themed institutes so that students can deeply explore future careers—with real-world learning experiences—before they leave high school.

And a school leader in Sanford, N.C., who works tirelessly to weave together a safety net to ensure that homeless students don’t fall through the cracks and have the tools they need to be academically successful.

These are a few of the 12 district leaders who were recognized this week as part of EdWeek’s Leaders To Learn From 2020.

The report, which was released Wednesday, highlights the work of district leaders across the country, who are committed to developing robust systems to ensure that staff and students have the tools, experiences, resources, and opportunities they need to excel.

This year’s honorees include:

  • Nellie Aspel, director of exceptional children, Cleveland County school district, Shelby, N.C.;
  • Mark Breen, director of technology, Vail school district, Vail, Ariz.;
  • Shari L. Camhi, superintendent, Baldwin school district, Baldwin, N.Y.;
  • Nolberto Delgadillo, chief financial officer, Tulsa school district, Tulsa, Okla.;
  • Jana Beth Francis, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, Daviess County school district, Owensboro Ky.;
  • Marsha Francis, program manager, First STEP, Fulton County school district, Atlanta, Ga.;
  • Bryan Johnson, superintendent, Hamilton County school district, Chattanooga, Tenn.;
  • Gonzalo La Cava, chief of human resources, Palm Beach County school district, West Palm Beach, Fla.;
  • Joe Urban, director of food and nutrition services, Greenville County school district, Greenville, S.C.;
  • Johnnye Waller, assistant superintendent of auxiliary services/student services director, Lee County school district, Sanford, N.C.;
  • Jeff Wellington, supervisor of special projects, Hamilton Township school district, Hamilton Township, N.J.; and
  • Betti Wiggins, officer of nutrition services, Houston school district.

This year’s report also includes a new feature—a past leader’s reflection.

Tiffany Anderson, the superintendent in Topeka, Kan., writes about her leadership journey since she was honored in 2015 for her whole child approach to working with students in poverty in the Jennings, Mo., school system.

Some of this year’s honorees will participate in a free online summit on April 23, 2020 to share their ideas on how to tackle some of education’s most pressing challenges and the successful strategies they’ve used in their individual districts.

You can read more about these district leaders’ work at

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.