Meet the Leaders

Each year, Education Week identifies some of the nation’s most exceptional school district leaders in its Leaders To Learn From report and shines a spotlight on their extraordinary impact on the success of educators and students.

2021 Honorees

2021 Leaders To Learn From
We are excited to reveal our 2021 honorees. These cutting-edge district leaders drew on the foundations they laid and a wellspring of strong relationships to meet their students’ and staffs’ needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges of the school year.

All Leaders

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Nurturing Talent at Home to Revive a Struggling Region
In rural Edgecombe County, N.C., Valerie Bridges is revitalizing the region with micro-schools and a homegrown teacher-development program.
In Navajo Nation, a Star Superintendent Draws on His Ties to the Community
Quincy Natay grew up in Chinle, Ariz. Now he's increasing student access to laptops and Wi-Fi to maintain growth in learning through the pandemic.
A Wrestling Coach Pins Down the Education Technology of the Future
A Kansas leader keeps his district abreast of evolutions in broadband and technology—and finds parallels in his role as a wrestling coach.
How This District Leader Transformed Teacher PD
In Bakersfield, Calif., Jason Hodgson revamped teacher PD with a suite of customized, online courses taught mainly by district teachers.
Relying on Community Values: How One School Leader Advocates for Vulnerable Families
Carissa Purnell’s work at the Family Resource Centers in Salinas, Calif., is a lifeline for families, many of them migrant farm workers.
Driving Academic Improvement by Empowering Parents
Central to turning around public education in Detroit is reengaging the parents who had been largely cut out of the district.
Building a Community for Black Male Teachers
Baron R. Davis is leading efforts to hire more Black male teachers committed to improving academic excellence in a South Carolina district.
Ensuring Homeless Students Are Seen During a Pandemic
In Everett, Wash., Amy Perusse brought together a range of agencies to meet the needs of homeless students and their families.
Taking an Unapologetic Approach to Curriculum Overhaul
An academic leader at a charter school has overhauled curriculum—and proved that instructional rigor and anti-racism can co-exist.
A Place Where Teachers Take the Lead on Science Curriculum
Anna Heyer has empowered teachers to shape the science curriculum in an Arizona district, and has expanded time spent on science.
Weaving a Mental Health Safety Net
Special Projects Supervisor Jeff Wellington has overseen efforts to improve mental health for both staff and students in the Hamilton Township School District, N.J. He’s put into a place a social-emotional curriculum, a suicide-assessment protocol, and educator training--all to dispel the taboo surrounding mental health. He is recognized as a 2020 Leader To Learn From.
School Lunch as a Lever to Expand Equity and Improve School Climate
Betti Wiggins, the officer of nutrition services for the Houston Independent School District, gives students from low-income families daily access to nutritious meals and provides family-style lunch settings that help teach kids social skills. She is recognized as a 2020 Leader To Learn From.