Putting ‘super’ in superintendent
Hazelwood School District Superintendent Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart has been recognized as National Superintendent of the Year
By Charlotte Beard
Every year the National Association of School Superintendents (NASS), which represents and advocates for education leaders nationwide, bestows upon one individual from around the country the honor of National Superintendent of the Year. This year NASS’ semi-finalists included one superintendent from each of the following states: California, Arizona, and Massachusetts. However, the recipient of this year’s honor is Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, Superintendent of Hazelwood School District (HSD). She will be officially honored in September at the NASS IgnitED Conference in Washington, D.C.
“Dr. Collins-Hart is a champion for students and continuous improvement,” said Jon Roach, NASS Executive Director. “Her commitment to collaboration and mutual support in her district proved she is a leader with a demonstrated vision of building the next great generation of American students.”
Sonny Da Marto, NASS Assistant Executive Director adds, “If you look at what Dr. Collins-Hart has done within her district and community and what she is focused on, you’ll see why she is the type of school leader that our students really need.”
At this year’s HSD Convocation on Aug. 6, Collins-Hart stated in her speech, “We will be that district that with transitions continues to be the model for the country of what we do to help students who need us most, and continue to accelerate those students who will do well with or without us.”
Since the beginning of Collins-Hart’s leadership in July 2016, HSD has launched a strategic plan that includes new and innovative educational programming and parent and community involvement. In addition, the district expanded its Early Childhood Education program by offering free full-day preschools as well as launched a school-based health center.
“In terms of equity, we know we have some work to do,” Collins-Hart shared with the 2,200 district employees at the convocation. “We have to look at our policies, our practices and our processes that may unintentionally disproportionately negatively impact some students. We began that this year. We looked at the language in our code of conduct. We looked at our institutional practices. We removed language that might have a young person start their day off bad, not because of anything they did but because of what they wore or what they look like. That does not mean that we’re not going to address it. It just means that it’s not going to be a distraction from learning. Those are the kinds of processes that we are looking at this year and we are well on our road to equity. I can say because of that work – I’m HSD proud.”
Prior to Collins-Hart becoming the educational leader for the second largest district in St. Louis County and seventh-largest district in Missouri, she served as superintendent for Proviso Township High School and District 209 in Forest Park, Illinois; Pre K – 12 districts in North Carolina; and assistant superintendent in Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools in North Carolina, and the Lawrence Public Schools in Kansas.
“People I respected and admired encouraged me to become a school administrator,” Collins-Hart stated. “They helped me pursue the positions and supported me along the way.”
Her leadership reaches beyond the educational affiliations such as the American Association of School Administrators and the National Association of Black School Educators. The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority member serves in various roles in the community. She is a member of the Christian Hospital Board, the North County Incorporated Board of Directors, Valley Industries Board of Directors, and the Kiwanis Club of Florissant.
Collins-Hart, who started her career as a teacher, has a doctorate in educational policy and leadership from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas and a master’s degree in educational administration and curriculum and instruction, and a master’s degree in English Education – both from East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. In addition, she has a bachelor’s degree in English education from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
The 2019 NASS National Superintendent of the Year is among many honors the HSD superintendent has received. Some of her honors resulting from her leadership and service in the community are: Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc. Apple Teacher of the Year Award; National Alliance of Black School Educators 2015 Ida B. Wells Risk Taker Award; Top Ladies of Distinction 2014 Women in Leadership Orchid Award; and Outstanding Administrator Award for 7th Congressional District of Illinois.
Mark Behlmann, HSD’s Board President states, “I was delighted when the National Association of School Superintendents named Dr. Collins-Hart the 2019 Superintendent of the Year. Not only is this recognition a tremendous accomplishment for our superintendent, but it will also put our students, school district, and our community in the national spotlight. On behalf of the board of education, I would like to congratulate Dr. Collins-Hart on this outstanding achievement.”
CUTLINE: Photos courtesy Hazelwood School District
Cover-Super1 Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart stands with students at the Back to School Community Fair July 27 at Central High School.
Cover-Super2 Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart (sitting front, center) with GALACTIC students and staff in her office.