New superintendent wins SOY

Dr. Curtis Cain is the first from Missouri to win


Dr. Curtis Cain earns the Superintendent of the Year award at the American Association of School Administrators. The ceremony took place on Feb. 17. (Photo used with permission by AASA.)

Carrie Sandler, Editor-in-cheif

New superintendent Dr. Curtis Cain was named the Superintendent of the Year on Feb. 17.

Not only was Cain the winner of this award, but he was also the first superintendent from Missouri to win. Cain was one of four finalists for the award, but said he was not expecting to win the award at all. 

“I was not expecting to win the award by any stretch of the imagination; it completely caught me off guard,” Cain said.

In order to become a finalist for the award, one must exemplify high character and conduct within their district, and be reviewed by a group of selected members from the AASA (American Association of School Administrators) for further review for the award. Cain said the AASA utilizes a number of different criteria for determining who gets the award.

“The AASA follows a process that begins with each state having their own individual process that identifies the possible superintendent of the year from each of the 50 states. Then from that, it whittles and narrows down to four finalists that are selected and I have to be one of those four finalists that meet the criteria of 1) Leadership for Learning which creativity in successfully meeting the needs of students in his or her school system, 2) Communication which is strength in both personal and organizational communication, 3) Professionalism which is constant improvement of administrative knowledge and skills, while providing professional development opportunities and motivation to others on the education team, and 4) Community involvement which is active participation in local community activities and an understanding of regional, national, and international issues,” Cain said. 

Executive Director of Communication Mary Lapak said having him come into the district is a huge win, and that given the award they plan to hold him to high expectations. 

Having Dr. Cain named National Superintendent of the Year is a tremendous win for Rockwood. We are so grateful that our Board of Education hired Dr. Cain and that he is so excited and eager to bring his experience and expertise to Rockwood. Dr. Cain is well respected here locally, across the state and across the country because he is an exceptional, visionary leader and because he is laser-focused on what is best for kids and the work we do in the classroom to ensure every child has the opportunity to learn and grow,” Lapak said. 

When it comes to utilizing the award, Cain said he is extremely honored and is looking forward to next year working in the District.

“It’s a really really big deal. I’m the first superintendent of the year to get the award out of the state of Missouri. It’s very special. But, if there’s going to be an association of my name, the National Superintendent of the Year, and the Rockwood School District, I’m excited about that triangle of those talking points,” Cain said. “I’m excited about the energy and the momentum that’s going to build as a result of that. But what I’m most excited about is the fact that I’m going to be able to talk about the good things that we’re going to be doing as a district and how we’re going to keep the focus on what’s happening for students within the district. It’s a unique opportunity to be on a platform to really talk about the great things that happen in public schools, and I’m very excited about that.”

Lapak said that Cain winning this award proves how Rockwood made the right decision in selecting him to be the next superintendent.

 “I think the award is further evidence of what an amazing leader Dr. Cain is and how well-equipped he is to lead Rockwood as our next superintendent. I think it is also evidence of how fortunate we are that he was chosen to fill that role,” Lapak said.

When it comes to plans for the district, Cain said he is very excited about implementing his goals, like making Rockwood the top district in the state.

“I haven’t made it a secret that I believe Rockwood is one of the absolute jewels in the country, and so I want to come in and do a lot of listening and learning in terms of what is happening in Rockwood. There are a lot of really good things happening in the district and I think that forming relationships are really meaningful with all kinds of stakeholders within the community because I think that’s ultimately going to be necessary,” Cain said. “We’re going to be working to be the top school district in the state of Missouri, and I think all of the conditions are present for that to happen in Rockwood, so I am very excited.”

With that being said, Lapak said she is looking forward to how Cain will take these actions to better Rockwood.

“Dr. Cain has shared through his words and his actions that he is a life-long learner. I believe this will be a tremendous opportunity for him to learn from school leaders across the country and bring innovative and cutting-edge ideas back to Rockwood that will benefit our students and our staff,” Lapak said. “We should all be very excited that this award not only will highlight Dr. Cain on the national stage, but will provide additional opportunities for the Rockwood School District to be highlighted at the national level as well.”