2 local educators named finalists for 2023 Kansas Superintendent of the Year

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Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 11:47 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Two local superintendents have been named as finalists for the 2023 Kansas Superintendent of the Year.

The Kansas School Superintendents’ Association said on Wednesday, Sept. 21, that it has named three exceptional superintendents as finalists for the 2023 Kansas Superintendent of the Year.

KSSA said the finalists are Dr. Tiffany Anderson, USD 501, Dr. Michael Argabright, USD 252, and Dr. Alicia Thompson, USD 259.

The Association said Anderson is the superintendent of the Topeka Public School District USD 501 and has served in the role since July 2016. Her district serves more than 13,000 students and represents an incredibly diverse population. In 2021, it said more than 77% of students who attended the district qualified for the federal school food service program.

In 2018, KSSA said TPS opened the region’s only Center for Advanced Professional Studies program - the Topeka Center for Advanced Learning and Careers. It said TPS is also home of the Kanza Education and Science Park - the largest science park in the region.

KSSA noted that TPS has won five Magna Awards, three of which have been awarded under Anderson’s leadership. It was also awarded the national first-place Magna award for its K-12 Dual Language Program - making it the best in the nation. TPS also won the District of Distinction in 2015 and in 2018.

According to the Association, Argabright has been the superintendent of Southern Lyon County Schools USD 252 since July 2006. It said the district encompasses 295 square miles of southern Lyon Co.

KSSA said all four of USD 252′s attendance centers can be found in rural areas with socio-economic status ranging from 10% to 80% free lunch. The district has also been recognized with Governor’s Awards, America’s Best High School, Kansas School of Character, Standard of Excellence, Kansans Can Star Awards and several State Championships over the past 17 years.

KSSA noted that academic achievement continues to drive Southern Lyon Co.’s vision with shared values in extracurricular opportunities and success. The district is proud of continued growth in its STEM programs, greenhouse/gardening activities, drone technology and early education programs. It has also passed successful bond elections in the past three decades, with the most recent construction completed in 2020.

Lastly, KSSA said Thompson has been with the Wichita School District throughout her entire education career. She began as an administrator in 1994 and elevated through various administrative roles until she was named superintendent in 2017. As the largest district in the state, USD 259 serves more than 47,000 students and educates about 10% of all public schools in the state.

KSSA noted that the Wichita district is diverse with well over 100 languages spoken in students’ homes. More than 70% of students also come from economically disadvantaged homes.

Since Thompson has been at the helm, KSSA said USD 259′s graduation rate has increased by 5.4 percentage points and students now earn more than 2,000 industry-recognized credentials each year.

In June, KSSA said 16 superintendents from around the Sunflower State were nominated by peers for the award. It said 10 of those completed the rigorous application process - including the completion of four essay-type questions as well as a personal video.

KSSA said the applications were reviewed and scored by its committee and over the next two weeks, each finalist will be interviewed by a committee made up of former Kansas Superintendents of the Year.

The Association noted that the 2023 Kansas Superintendent of the Year will be announced on Oct. 11 live on its Facebook page.