District 214's Schuler named national superintendent of the year

Northwest Suburban High School District 214 Superintendent David R. Schuler, known in education circles across the country for championing a college and career readiness initiative, was named 2018 National Superintendent of the Year by a national superintendents organization Thursday.

Schuler was one of four finalists for the honor, awarded Thursday night at a conference of the School Superintendents Association in Nashville. He's the first superintendent from Illinois to win the award in the 31 years it's been given out.

"I love being a public school superintendent," he told the crowd of educators gathered for the conference's opening general session.

Schuler, standing on stage with the finalists from Indiana, Tennessee and California and other state-level winners, was given a ribbon and medal, along with a blue blazer that's custom for winners to wear. He also posed for pictures with a giant check, representing the $10,000 college scholarship that will be presented in his name to a student from District 214 or the high school where he graduated.

Calling the honor surreal and overwhelming, Schuler thanked his administrative team, District 214 school board, and family for their support.

He pointed to the Redefining Ready! campaign that he launched while president of the superintendents organization during the 2015-16 school year. The framework uses metrics - such as grade-point average, placement in advanced or dual credit courses, attendance and participation in co-curricular activities - to define students as being college- and career-ready.

Several school boards across the country have since adopted resolutions in support of the indicators.

"The Redefining Ready! initiative turned into a national movement to change public education," Schuler said. "It's not done - and it's definitely not at the starting point either. But our school districts and communities now know students are more than the score they earn on a standardized test.

"We need to keep fighting the fight because tell me who in your community has more impact than you as a public school superintendent," he told the audience.

A six-person selection committee chose Schuler, utilizing criteria that included leadership for learning, communication, professionalism and community involvement.

In addition to Redefining Ready!, officials also noted Schuler's leadership behind District 214's career pathways program, in which students can get early college credit, internships and career credentials.

Schuler, 47, began his career as a social studies teacher in Wisconsin, where he later served as superintendent in two Wisconsin districts before his hiring in District 214 in 2005. He oversees Illinois' second-largest high school district, based in Arlington Heights, with more than 12,000 students at six high schools and four specialized learning programs.

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