Thomas Tucker, the superintendent of Princeton City schools in Cincinnati, Ohio, was named the 2016 Superintendent of the Year on Thursday at the AASA, the School Superintendents Association’s, annual education conference in Phoenix.
Tucker was chosen from a field of four finalists, which included Pamela Moran of the Albemarle County Public school district in Charlottesville, Va.; Steven Webb of the Vancouver district in Vancouver, Wash., and Freddie Williamson of the Hoke County school district in Raeford, N.C.
Dan Domenech, the executive director of the AASA, said it was a difficult task to select a winner from such a stellar crop of superintendents.
Tucker joined the Princeton City schools in 2015, and previously served in school districts in Kansas and Ohio, according to the AASA. Over a 26-year career, he has worked as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, curriculum director, and superintendent.
In 2008, Tucker became the first African-American to serve as superintendent in the Licking Heights district in Licking County, Ohio.
In brief remarks after he donned the traditional blue blazer following the announcement, Tucker said the award was not really about him.
“It’s about the work of our students, our teachers—the best teachers in the world—our support staff, our community members, and our board of education members,” he said. “And I ask you to join me today and, in the future, in continuing to improve our education system.”
Tucker also congratulated his fellow finalists, whom he called “outstanding.”
“I had my bets on them, and I would certainly continue to lean heavily on them,” he said.
And he sounded a theme that was a constant during the night: a defense of American public education. He thanked educators, parents, and the community for supporting public education and the nation’s public schools students.
“American public education is second to none, " he said later, to applause. " Again, is second to none.”
The AASA awards a $10,000 college scholarship in the winner’s name to a high school student in the high school from which the winner graduated or a high school senior in the winner’s current district.
The association also named Elizabeth Ann Sanders, an adjunct professor at Baker University in Kansas, as the winner of the Dr. Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award. The award is named after educator Effie H. Jones, who worked on “elevating the status of minorities and women in education” while employed in the Office of Minority Affairs at the AASA.
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.