ConVal’s Kimberly Rizzo Saunders named Superintendent of the Year

ConVal Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Rizzo Saunders has been selected as the New Hampshire Superintendent of the Year for 2024.

ConVal Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Rizzo Saunders has been selected as the New Hampshire Superintendent of the Year for 2024. CONVAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

Published: 12-18-2023 10:17 AM

Modified: 12-22-2023 10:45 AM

Conval Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunders has been named Superintendent of the Year by the New Hampshire School Administrators Association.

“This award is not truly individual, but recognizes the collective efforts of the ConVal staff and community and those who have supported me throughout my career,” Rizzo Saunders stated. “Without them, our district would not have made such a difference in the lives of our students and community.”

According to a press release from the district, Rizzo Saunders was nominated by School Board Chair Richard Dunning, along with 18 administrators from across the state.

“Her actions have reignited the conversation about the basic rights of students and the essential role that public education plays in our society,” the nominators wrote. “She has invested countless hours, sacrificed personal time and made difficult decisions, all with the sole purpose of advancing educational opportunities for the students of New Hampshire. Her selflessness and willingness to put the needs of others above her own make her a true servant leader.”

Nomination letters cited ongoing partnerships in the district’s nine communities to ensure that children and families experiencing challenges involving mental health, well being, housing and homelessness are connected with support and resources. Collaborations have also led to summer programming and tutoring for students, staff development led by community groups, and public events.

Rizzo Saunders also supports efforts to increase the number of women in administrative positions in education, and recently led professional development on negotiating strategies specifically for women.

The efforts of Rizzo Saunders and the ConVal School Board also resulted in a lawsuit against the state over the question of adequate funding for public education. Rockingham County Superior Court Judge David Ruoff recently ruled in favor of the district and its co-plaintiffs, ordering the state Legislature to increase per-pupil funding for all districts, although the state has announced it plans to appeal the decision.

“Kimberly’s selection as Superintendent of the Year is so deserving,” Dunning stated. “Kimberly dealt with the COVID-19 challenge by supporting student education online to keep students involved in learning, and was able to get our students back into the classroom as quickly as possible. When confronting inadequate educational state funding, Kimberly’s leadership and testimony led to a positive outcome, for students and taxpayers alike.”

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Rizzo Saunders will be recognized during the AASA, The School Superintendents Association, national conference in San Diego in February. She also will serve as keynote speaker at the annual NHSAA conference in June 2024.

On Monday, the district announced that Rizzo Saunders had also been named a finalist for National Superintendent of the Year, along with Joe Gothard of Saint Paul Public Schools in St. Paul, Minn., Martha Salazar-Zamora of Tomball Independent School District in Tomball, Texas, and Frederick Williams of Dublin City Schools in Dublin, Ga.