School & District Management

Superintendent of the Year Focuses on How to ‘Do More’ in Minnesota

By Caitlynn Peetz — February 15, 2024 2 min read
Joe Gothard, superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools stands for a portrait at Como Park High School in St. Paul, Minn., on Aug. 21, 2021, where new federal school funding will help to hire staff, buy books and be used for building renovations.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Joe Gothard, superintendent of the St. Paul school district in Minnesota’s capital, has been named the 2024 National Superintendent of the Year, considered the most prestigious award for district leaders.

Gothard, who has been superintendent in St. Paul since 2017, said during a brief acceptance speech that he was honored to accept the award on behalf of the district’s school board, 33,000 students, 6,000 staff members and “a loving community that cares deeply about the success of students.”

The award was presented here during the National Conference on Education hosted by AASA, The School Superintendents’ Association.

Gothard, 52, also acknowledged the superintendents from across the country in attendance, as well as his wife and three children.

“It really is an honor to be a leader amongst all of you,” he said.

The other finalists for the national award were: Martha Salazar-Zamora of the Tomball, Texas, school district; Kimberly Rizzo Saunders of Contoocook Valley schools in Peterborough, N.H.; and Frederick Williams from Georgia’s Dublin City school system.

EW Joe Gothard BS

During a January panel discussion of the four finalists in January, Gothard discussed his desire to spend the $206 million St. Paul received in federal pandemic relief funds in a strategic way.

St. Paul used some of its pandemic relief funds to create a districtwide innovation office, he said.

Staff in that new department conducted a needs assessment that has led to several new initiatives, including an overhaul of the district’s reading instruction strategy.

“I did not want to take that money and spend it in the way that we’ve always spent our money,” Gothard said during the January event. “We had to do more.”

He also said he has spent much of his tenure working to meet students’ needs, rather than trying to force students to fit into a predetermined education mold.

“It’s happening because we want to ensure that we know who our students are, and they know the opportunities that they have in our school district,” Gothard said.

Gothard holds several leadership positions, including president of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators and member of the Council of Great City Schools’ executive committee.

Before becoming St. Paul’s superintendent, he served as superintendent of Minnesota’s Burnsville-Eagan-Savage school district. Prior to that position, he served as a principal and assistant superintendent in Madison, Wis.

Finalists for the Superintendent of the Year award are chosen from winners of the state superintendent of the year contests. They’re evaluated on four criteria: how their creative leadership meets students’ needs, communication skills, professionalism, and community involvement. An AASA panel of judges then selects the winner.

A student attending the high school from which the superintendent graduated or a school in the St. Paul district will receive a $10,000 scholarship in Gothard’s name.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Your Questions on the Science of Reading, Answered
Dive into the Science of Reading with K-12 leaders. Discover strategies, policy insights, and more in our webinar.
Content provided by Otus
Mathematics Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Breaking the Cycle: How Districts are Turning around Dismal Math Scores
Math myth: Students just aren't good at it? Join us & learn how districts are boosting math scores.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Achievement Webinar
How To Tackle The Biggest Hurdles To Effective Tutoring
Learn how districts overcome the three biggest challenges to implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity: time, talent, and funding.
Content provided by Saga Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion When Women Hold Each Other Back: A Call to Action for Female Principals
With so many barriers already facing women seeking administrative roles, we should not be dimming each other’s lights.
Crystal Thorpe
4 min read
A mean female leader with crossed arms stands in front of a group of people.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
School & District Management Opinion Want a Leadership Edge? You Already Have What You Need
School leaders are faced daily with challenging situations. Here's how to prevent the tail from wagging the dog in responding.
Danny Bauer
4 min read
Screen Shot 2024 04 05 at 5.35.06 AM
School & District Management When Interventions Aim at Relationships, Academics and Attendance Improve
Connecting a student to adults—and peers—has been a missing link in early-warning systems.
4 min read
Image of a data dashboard.
Suppachok Nuthep/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Principals Know A TikTok Ban Won’t Solve All Their Problems. But Many Still Want One
Principals say banning the app could help start addressing the mental health challenges that emerge online, and carry over to school.
5 min read
The TikTok logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen which displays the TikTok home screen, Oct. 14, 2022, in Boston.
The TikTok logo pictured on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen on Oct. 14, 2022, in Boston.
Michael Dwyer/AP