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Past Superintendent of the Year Award Winners


Dr. Bridget O'Connell, Palisades School District
Since becoming superintendent of the Palisades School District in 2011, Dr. O’Connell has demonstrated positive and forward-thinking leadership that has inspired student achievement, community involvement and support, state and national recognition, and systemic models that have served as an example for other districts. As an educational leader, she works collaboratively with school board and community members, administration, faculty, staff, parents and students to enhance learning opportunities. 

Under Dr. O’Connell’s leadership, student achievement, academic recognition and a focus on the whole child have been a hallmark of the district’s schools. That focus has brought numerous state and national recognitions to both the district and district schools. In addition, the district’s high school students score consistently high on AP exams, with 52 students earning distinction as AP Scholars just in the past two years.

Dr. O’Connell has led district-wide efforts to focus on college and career readiness by developing multiple pathway programs for students focused on coursework and hands-on experiences that allow students to reaffirm their college and career interests or, in some instances, help them make decisions in other directions. With her leadership, Palisades developed online learning options years in advance of the pandemic and countless extracurricular opportunities, initiatives that have served as a model for countless districts statewide and nationally.

In addition, Dr. O’Connell leverages social media, traditional media, videos and in-person methods to reach and proactively engage with all stakeholders, efforts that have garnered support by parents and the community. She likewise is committed to professional leadership in Pennsylvania and nationally, serving one the Governing Board of AASA®, The School Superintendents Association, the PASA Board of Governors and the PASA Advocacy Committee. She also has delivered both in-person and virtual presentations for the numerous PASA programs and professional forums. 

Finally, Dr. O’Connell makes advocacy for public education a hallmark of her leadership. She regularly corresponds with state legislators, maintains a legislation and advocacy webpage on the district’s website, and hosts annual legislative dinners with the district’s state representative to discuss current issues facing public education.

Dr. O’Connell was one of 50 state Superintendents of the Year recognized during the AASA National Conference on Education in February, 2022.


Dr. Khalid Murmin, Reading School District
When Dr. Mumin began his tenure as superintendent in 2014, he was confronted with 19 buildings of failing infrastructures, eight bargaining units without contracts for five years, and a district having little to no transparency with either staff or constituents. One of the largest urban districts in Pennsylvania, Reading also was one of the poorest, with a highly transient student population and extremely low test scores, and a district facing a financial crisis – along with a looming state takeover.
Dr. Mumin demonstrated visionary leadership right from the start to get the district back on a positive track and focused on academic growth and support. He put together a team of professionals that focused on consistency by creating and implementing a plan for the 13 elementary schools in the district to have the same lesson plans across the board. For high school students, he led the creation and implementation of the Reading Virtual (RVA) and Reading Red Knight Accelerated Academies (RKAA), blended learning programs designed to reengage dropouts and non-traditional students in the public education system, thus leading to graduation. In fact, the RVA is being used as a model for other districts in Berks County to compete with the costs and educational programming of cyber charter schools at an approximate cost of $8,500 per pupil, compared to the cyber charter cost of $14,000 per student, with RVA students also having guaranteed access to certified teachers and extracurricular activities. To further support students, he brought more social workers and school counselors into all of the district’s schools.
In addition, Dr. Mumin led the creation of the Reading School District Welcome Center to engage and empower the families of an increasing population of English Language Learners through orientations for new families, parent engagement activities, adult education programs, and a wide variety of social services provided by the district’s community partners.
With the COVID pandemic, Dr. Mumin and his team focused on addressing the technology and internet connectivity gaps within the districts, making Reading a “one student one technology” device district for all students in grades K-12. In addition, he led the effort to ensure that most of the district’s schools have extended open wireless connections for students to access the internet while maintaining social distancing, and developed a district partnership with Comcast to provide internet service in the homes of up to 10,000 students for the 2020-21 school year at no cost to parents.
As a result of all these initiatives, attendance has consistently trended upward, test scores are increasing, the achievement gap is closing, the high school has won the Distinguished Title I School for Achievement award two consecutive years and received the Silver Award for Best High Schools from US News, and the district’s schools continue to show growth in academic effectiveness every year.
In addition, Dr. Mumin has focused on the issue of equity as key to student success, serving on panels and giving presentations focused on issues such as immigration, racism and equal opportunity for all students. With a continuing commitment to inclusion and diversity, he has served as both a role model and spokesperson on the challenges of unconscious bias, the need to understand and address those challenges, and the importance of accepting others. He and the Reading School Board created a Welcoming Schools Resolution to ensure all students and families may seek help, information, assistance and safety from discrimination and harassment. With his input, the board also approved an Anti-Racism and Equity Policy based on the principles of fairness and justice in allocating resources and treatment and creating opportunities for success for each student according to his/her unique needs.
To raise student achievement, support students and staff, and promote a culture of excellence, Dr. Mumin places a high emphasis on transparency, communication, teambuilding, community engagement, partnerships and visibility throughout the district and the wider community. When developing a plan for classroom re-configuration, he hosted a series of town meetings to help the community better understand that “what” and “why” of those changes and to address the concerns of faculty and parents. During the ongoing COVID pandemic, he provided staff, families and the school board continual updates with relevant information pertaining to the ever-changing environment. He strengthened the district’s social media presence through Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and the Class DoJo implementation to further inform students, parents and the community. That work has led to numerous awards for the district from the Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association. In addition, Dr. Mumin and his team strengthened the district’s website and utilizes videos to further provide information to the entire community. In fact, the 2020 open day video, “Kid Superintendent Video,” became a national sensation.
Dr. Mumin maintains high visibility both within the school community and the community-at-large, participating on local boards (Habitat for Humanity, the Greater Reading Economic Partnership, United Way, Berks Arts Council, YMCA and the Berks Community Action Program), developing partnerships within the community to enhance investment in the students and the district itself, providing educational insights through frequent participation on local podcasts, including Dear Reading, and speaking at community events such as the Virtual Juneteenth Celebration 2020 for Reading. Through these and other civic opportunities, he clearly demonstrates his understanding of what children need from an academic perspective while also addressing the social issues affecting the entire community.
Professionally, Dr. Mumin places a high value on giving voice to students in urban schools through active membership with PASA, AASA® The School Superintendents’ Association, the National School Board Association and Council of Urban Educators, the PASA Urban Caucus, the Mid Atlantic Equity Consortium and the National Alliance of Black School Educators, among numerous other professional organizations. He has served as a panelist and presenter for PASA, AASA, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Discovery Education, among others, and has published numerous articles and op-eds on the importance of student voice.
Most recently, he has published the book Problem Child: Leading Students Living in Poverty Towards Infinite Possibilities of Success (WGW Publishing, June 2020), in which he examines the historical constructs of youth growing up in poverty, emphasizes the ways in which influential mentorship has become one of major pillars of success, and provides a three-pronged approach at addressing teaching and leadership for students who grow up in underserved communities. It is a philosophy inspired by his own life story and demonstrated through visionary excellence in the Reading School District.
After Dr. Mumin’s work to get the district on a more positive financial track, finalize collective bargaining contracts that brought more stability to the district, develop a more positive and transparent vision for the district, create a positive district environment and lead staff and students to academic success, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale described the district’s turnaround under Dr. Mumin’s leadership as “nothing short of a miracle,” and the ongoing upward trajectory of the district as a testimony to his vision.

2020: Dr. David E. Baugh, Centennial School District
2019: Dr. Gennro R. Piraino, Jr., Franklin Regional School District
2018: Dr. Michael Snell, Central York School District
2017: Dr. Joseph Roy, Bethlehem Area School District
2016: Dr. Mark DiRocco, Lewisburg Area School District
2015: Dr. Emilie Lonardi, West York Area School District
2014: Dr. James Capolupo, Springfield School District
2013: Dr. William N. Miller, Tyrone Area School District
2012: Dr. Patrick T. O'Toole, Upper St. Clair School District
2011: Dr. Kathleen R. Kelley, Williamsport Area School District
2010: Dr. Amy Sichel, Abington School District
2009: Dr. James Manley, Pine-Richland School District
2008: Dr. Rudolph Karkosak, Kennett Consolidated School District
2007: Dr. Patrick Crawford, Bedford Area School District
2006: Dr. William Stavisky, Greater Latrobe School District
2005: Dr. Carol Saylor, Manheim Central School District
2004: Dr. Charles Faust, Baldwin-Whitehall School District
2003: Dr. Gary McCartney, Parkland School District
2002: Dr. William Pope, Upper St. Clair Twp. School District
2001: Dr. N. Roberts Laws, Central Bucks School District
2000: Dr. Wayne Doyle, Gateway School District