School District Leadership Takes Step Forward with Announcement of  
AASA-USC Urban Superintendents Academy Graduates

Alexandria, Va. – May 31, 2016 – In an effort to strengthen public school district leadership in some of the nation’s most challenged school districts, AASA, The School Superintendents Association, is pleased to announce the first-ever cohort of educators to successfully complete the AASA-University of Southern California Urban Superintendents Academy.

More than a dozen educators recently graduated from the nearly yearlong program created to prepare superintendents for the demands of the country’s most challenged school districts.

“Children need champions, which is why we are pleased to partner with USC’s Rossier School of Education on this critical initiative,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “We commend the first cohort of graduates for the work they have accomplished. Creating a pathway for urban school leadership is one solution in our effort to confront the issue of equity in this country.”

“Fostering effective learning environments in urban education on local, national and global levels is at the heart of USC Rossier’s mission,” said Karen Symms Gallagher, dean, USC Rossier School of Education. “The graduates of the AASA-USC Urban Superintendents Academy are positioned to changing the culture of learning in the school districts in which they will serve—which is why this announcement is so important.”

Launched in 2015, The AASA-USC Rossier program features:

  • A small cohort of superintendents who will learn through an online approach;
  • Content designed specifically for the existing and emerging urban environments across the United States;
  • Mentors and program facilitators; and
  • An AASA/USC Rossier certificate following successful completion of a capstone project.

Maria Ott, professor of clinical education, is serving as USC’s lead faculty member for the AASA/USC Rossier Urban Superintendents Academy. For more information about the Academy, visit the AASA website. For questions, contact Mort Sherman, AASA associate executive director at / 703-875-0726 or Bernadine Futrell, AASA director, awards and collaborations at / 703-875-0717.

The 2015-16 AASA/USC Urban Superintendents Academy cohort is comprised of:

  • Darryl S. Adams, superintendent Coachella Valley Unified School District (Calif.)
  • Maria Covarrubias, founding principal, Renuevo Schools (Calif.)
  • Ben Drati, assistant superintendent Santa Barbara School District (Calif.)
  • Nisha Dugal, senior director, secondary schools, Torrance Unified School District (Calif.)
  • Angel Gallardo, director, administrative services, Montebello Unified School District (Calif.)
  • Stella M. Kemp, assistant superintendent, Educational Services, Franklin – McKinley School District (Calif.)
  • Kym LeBlanc-Esparza, superintendent Newberg School District (Ore.)
  • Elida MacArthur, assistant superintendent, Mt. Pleasant Elementary School District (Calif.)
  • Kimberly M. MacKinney, chief academic officer, Oro Grande School District (Calif.)
  • Angelica M. Ramsey, associate superintendent, Santa Clara County Office of Education (Calif.) (Recently accepted the position as superintendent of the Pleasant Valley School District (Calif.)
  • Marion J. Smith, Jr., regional director, student and school success, Puget Sound Educational Service District (Wash.)
  • Frank Wells, director, education leadership, Santa Clara County Office of Education (Calif.)
  • Shawn K. Wightman, superintendent Marysville Public School District (Mich.)


About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. For more information, visit


Achieve3000 and Virginia Beach City Public Schools Launch New Summer Kindergarten Readiness Initiative


The Smarty Summer: Diving into Early Literacy Initiative is the Result of a Special Partnership to Prepare Children for Kindergarten Reading Success

LAKEWOOD, N.J. – May 31, 2016 – Achieve3000® and Virginia Beach City Public Schools have partnered to create Smarty Summer: Diving into Early Literacy, a new kindergarten reading readiness initiative exclusively for Virginia Beach students. Under this initiative, children who will be starting kindergarten in fall 2016 will receive a free summer subscription to Smarty Ants®, an effective, research-based literacy program designed specifically for young learners.

Achieve3000 is the leading literacy solution in blended learning programs today, specializing in cloud-based, differentiated learning solutions for school-aged youth as well as adult learners. It has helped millions of students worldwide to improve their reading and writing skills, master increasingly rigorous academic standards, and prepare for high-stakes assessments.


“We are looking forward to building on our partnership of success with Virginia Beach City Public Schools and supporting their goal of ensuring that every student can achieve a high standard of academic performance and growth,” said Saki Dodelson, CEO and founder of Achieve3000. “We share their commitment to providing engaging, student-centered programs that reach kids at their precise learning levels and accelerate their literacy gains. Our differentiated instruction solutions will give these kindergarteners-to-be the right start on the road to college and career success. We are looking forward to supporting Virginia Beach’s students and parents, as well as their dedicated educators, with this new initiative.”


Virginia Beach City Public Schools is the second-largest school division in Virginia, with 55 elementary schools, 15 middle schools, 12 high schools, and a number of secondary/post-secondary specialty centers. In 2014, the division superintendent, Dr. Aaron Spence, spearheaded a five-year strategic plan to prepare and empower every student to become a life-long 21st-century learner, which includes implementing a personalized learning approach at all school levels.


Smarty Ants is a cutting-edge foundational literacy program for grades PreK-1 that teaches children how to read in an engaging, online environment. The adaptive content system automatically evaluates each student’s skills and preferences to deliver the “just-right” level of instruction to maximize learning gains. As students engage with the program through their unique, customizable avatar, their success is recognized and rewarded with virtual awards and mini-games. At the same time, Smarty Ants’ systematic scope and sequence builds the phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills children need to become confident, capable readers.


Virginia Beach already started using Smarty Ants for PALS-identified students in its elementary schools as of February 2016. As a blended learning program, Smarty Ants is designed to be used both in school and outside of the classroom – in fact, the program’s “anytime, anywhere, any-device access” and easy-to-use dashboard are what makes it ideal for home use during the summer.


Smarty Ants is not the only Achieve3000 solution currently implemented at Virginia Beach. In the 2015-2016 school year, the school division started a three-year partnership with the company to implement the Achieve3000 Pro Virginia Edition, which is designed for mixed-ability English language arts, social studies, and science classrooms in grades two through 12. In Virginia Beach, grades three through five use Pro for guided reading, while grades six through 12 use the solution for content-area literacy in both language arts and social studies courses.


The Virginia Edition of Achieve3000’s eScience3000® – an experiential, differentiated core science program – is also being used in the division’s middle school science classrooms. Both the Pro and eScience3000 solutions have been customized by Achieve3000’s instructional experts to align with the Virginia Beach’s learning objectives for the each grade level and subject area.


Achieve3000 also announced that it plans to partner with several other school districts this summer to launch similar kindergarten readiness programs. For more information about Achieve3000 or its learning solutions, please visit



About Achieve3000, Inc.

Achieve3000 is the leader in online differentiated literacy instruction, serving over two million students worldwide. For nearly 15 years, the company has been reaching students at their individual reading levels to deliver significant learning gains, with many making double to triple the expected gains in a single school year. Based on decades of scientific research, Achieve3000’s solutions – Smarty Ants (for grades PreK-1), KidBiz3000 (for grades 2-5), TeenBiz3000 (for grades 6-8), Empower3000 (for grades 9-12), Spark3000 (for adult learners), and eScience3000 (for grades 6-8) – support core curriculum, Response to Intervention, English language learner, and special education instructional models as well as 21st-century education initiatives. From learning how to read to workforce readiness, Achieve3000 empowers all learners to develop the college and career literacy skills needed for academic, professional, and personal success. The company is based in Lakewood, N.J. Learn more about Achieve3000 online or by calling 888-968-6822.