TOPEKA — The Kansas School Superintendents’ Association (KSSA) is pleased to announce three exceptional school superintendents as finalists for the 2020 Kansas Superintendent of the Year Award. In June, 12 Kansas superintendents were nominated by their peers for this year’s award.
Eight of the nominees completed the rigorous application process which includes completing four essay-type questions plus a personal video. These applications are reviewed and scored by a select KSSA committee. Over the next week, each of the finalist will be interviewed by a committee comprised of former Kansas Superintendents of the Year. The 2020 Kansas Superintendent of the Year will be announced on October 14.
Among the finalists is Dr. Shelly Kiblinger who has served as the superintendent of Cherryvale Public Schools USD 447 since July 2017. Cherryvale is a rural district with 760 students. The district has a pre-K-6 building, a 7-12 grade high school, and a K-8 building in the community of Thayer. Prior to returning to southeast Kansas where she grew up, Dr. Kiblinger served as the superintendent in Hutchinson Schools from 2011-2017 and assistant superintendent in Garden City.
In 2017-18, the district began work on curriculum and implementing research-based MTSS interventions. Cherryvale also implemented an afterschool program. In 2018-19, she successfully completed the steps necessary for the district to join Literacy Network of Kansas grant. Dr. Kiblinger was able to use the grant to provide hundreds of hours of professional development in reading pedagogy to the teachers. In the fall of 2018, only 51 percent of students were reading on grade level, with socioeconomic status being a clear predictor of reading below grade level. Following a year of intervention, in Spring, 2019, 76 percent of students were on grade level, which closed the achievement gap between the low SES students and their full-pay peers by about half.
The other finalists are Dr. Cory Gibson, superintendent of the Valley Center USD 262. He has served as the superintendent since July of 2012. And Dr. Chad Higgins, the superintendent of the Maize USD 266 School District since July of 2015.