HomePeopleMinnesota Administrator Named National Superintendent of the Year

Minnesota Administrator Named National Superintendent of the Year

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Dr. Joe Gothard of Saint Paul Public Schools in Minnesota was named this year’s Superintendent of the Year at the National Conference on Education.

Dr. Joe Gothard, the superintendent for Saint Paul Public Schools in Minnesota

“On behalf of the Saint Paul Public Schools, board of education, our 33,000 students, scholars and children, our 6,000 staff and a loving community who cares deeply about the success of students, I’m honored to accept this on their behalf,” Gothard said Thursday evening after being named winner. “To my Minnesota colleague, our state association… and to our colleague — colleagues that we can lean on when times are hard, colleagues that we learn from we need inspiration and colleagues that we can laugh with. Because every once in a while, we call each other and say, ‘You can’t make this up.’ It really is an honor to be a leader amongst all of you. This is truly special for me.”

He added that all in attendance during the award ceremony to receive a round of applause for the work they do.

Gothard also thanked his wife of 30 years Mary and his three children.

The Superintendent of the Year Award is sponsored by The School Superintendents Association, which produces the National Conference on Education, alongsideschool bus contractor First Student and Corebridge Financial. The award celebrates the contributions and leadership of public school superintendents.

As School Transportation News previously reported, Saint Paul Public Schools contracts out most of its transportation to First Student, while also employing 35 drivers in-house that primarily handle the district’s transportation of students with Individualized Education Programs. However, contractors also serve some additional special education routes. With 245 contracted bus drivers and another 120 contracted van drivers, the district has a total of 730 morning and afternoon routes, transporting more than 23,400 students daily.

Gothard has been the superintendent for the district since July 2017, adding that transportation is one of the most critical services that a public school district provides for impacting student success.

Claire Miller, chief commercial officer of First Student, commenced the general session on Thursday by congratulating the audience for their accomplishments.

“Caring for students is your top priority,” Miller said, adding that First Student see’s the superintendent impact on their student passengers. “We transport five and a half million children everyday. We see the difference you make in those kids. Caring for students is our top priority too.”

Miller added that the school bus ride makes a difference, noting that a smooth, on-time ride can make the difference in a child showing up ready to learn.

In its sixth year of sponsoring the National Superintendent of the Year award, First Student is also displaying a Lion Electric school bus at this week’s exhibitor show, which concludes Saturday. “We offer electric school buses, so that kids have cleaner air and a healthier environment,” she added, noting that the company has 300 electric buses on the road today. “This is our way of our working toward student health, well-being and performance at school.”

Editor’s note — Read more about Gothard in the April edition of School Transportation News.

Related: Superintendent Snapshot: Transportation ‘Critical’ to Success of Saint Paul, Minnesota Students
Related: Superintendent Snapshot: Transportation, Administration Demonstrate Strong Working Relationship at Georgia District
Related: Superintendent Snapshot: New Hampshire District Shares Importance of Collaborating with Transportation Contractor
Related: Superintendent Snapshot: Texas Districts Says No Student, Department Left Behind

Meanwhile, Gothard told STN prior to his name being announced as the winner that he was humbled to be finalist.

“When I began my education career as a paraprofessional in my home district in Wisconsin [Madison Metropolitan School District], I certainly could not picture being where I am today,” he said. “I owe this recognition to so many mentors and colleagues who challenged, pushed and inspired me to do more and to help students like me find their way. While my name appears on the list of finalists, there are so many more exceptional educators and leaders who deserve to be recognized for all that they do for Saint Paul’s 33,000 students every day.”

This year’s four finalists were selected from 49 state superintendent award winners (Hawaii not included) and are judged based on their exhibited leadership for learning, communication, professionalism, and community involvement. A $10,000 college scholarship will be presented in Gothard’s name to a student at the high school he graduated from or in Saint Paul’s Public Schools.

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