The North Carolina School Superintendents' Association (NCSSA) and the North Carolina Alliance for School Leadership Development (NCASLD) announced the selection of La’Ronda Whiteside, assistant superintendent of Hickory City Schools, as a recipient of the Dr. Samuel Houston Leadership Award.
“The program was amazing and receiving the Dr. Samuel Houston Leadership Award was a humble surprise," said Whiteside. "Two significant things that were affirmed from Dr. Houston and this program were: 1) leadership matters, but shared leadership takes the edge off; and 2) this work is a collaborative journey of symbolic connections. I’m fortunate to have connected with so many great educational leaders through this experience.”
This annual award is presented to a graduate of the North Carolina School Superintendents' Association Aspiring Superintendent Program, a program which is designed to empower transformational education leaders for North Carolina’s public schools.
The award is named in honor of Samuel Houston who is president and chief executive officer of the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center. He served as superintendent of the Mooresville Graded School District for ten years where he opened the first year round school in North Carolina.
Houston has been a champion for strategic planning, student performance and accountability, meeting the needs of the 21st century workforce, skills for the STEM world and building education partnerships. He also served as the first executive director of the University of North Carolina Center for Leadership Development.
Houston was awarded the Jay Robinson Leadership Award as an Exemplary Educator for his outstanding contributions to statewide public K–12 education. He also earned the RJR-Nabisco Foundation's China Breaker Award for implementing educational change. He has been inducted into the Appalachian State University Reich College of Education's Rhododendron Society and the East Carolina University's Education Hall of Fame and has received the Distinguished Career Award from the University of North Carolina – Greensboro School of Education.
Jack Hoke, executive director of the North Carolina School Superintendents' Association, said that Whiteside exemplifies the traits that have guided Houston's career in educational leadership.
Whiteside is a passionate and compassionate educator with over 30 years of experience. She has been a mathematics teacher, assistant principal, principal, director, coach and mentor in Rutherford County. She was also named Principal of the Year in 2014 for Rutherford County Schools.
Whiteside was named assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for Hickory Public Schools in August 2017. She is currently president of the Hickory Xi Phi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and received the chapter Soror of the Year Award in 2017. She has served on several local committees such as American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, United Way, and Teaching Fellows, and currently is a board member of LiveWell Catawba in Hickory.
Whiteside enjoys sports, reading, walking and watching Hallmark movies. She is most proud of her faith, family, community service activities, and advocating for meaningful change in education.
“Dr. Whiteside is a skillful and compassionate district leader. She works tirelessly to ensure our teachers, principals, students and their families are receiving quality service from our school district. She is a champion for the underrepresented and works daily toward equality in her professional and personal life. We, at Hickory City Schools, are thankful that Dr. Whiteside chose our district to call home," said Hickory City Schools’ superintendent Robbie Adell.
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