In discussing leadership, President John Quincy Adams once said: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”

His logic aptly explains the motivation behind Education Week‘s annual Leaders To Learn From report. With each of these reports, our aim is simply to shine a light on forward-thinking district leaders who seized on good ideas and executed them well in their school systems. The hope is that other educators—and future leaders—in the nation’s 14,000-plus districts will learn from these leaders’ stories and be inspired to “dream more, do more, and become more” in their own districts.

At the very least, they might find a useful innovation to try out themselves.

While many of these leaders are superintendents, the roster can include a sprinkling of administrators and educators who are not normally in the public eye. In the past we’ve recognized a director of nursing services, an instructional technology director, a director of culinary and nutrition services, and many others.

To help find this year’s Leaders To Learn From, Education Week put out a call to readers for nominees. We also sought nominations from the leaders of administrators’ groups in most of the 50 states, as well as from members of the Education Writers Association, a Washington-based organization that includes local education reporters around the country. Education Week‘s own reporters identified leaders who are making a mark within the topical areas they cover. Members of the editorial staff made the final selections.

Each year our nominations reflect a thirst among educators for two things: a little positive recognition, and some good examples to follow.

Positive recognition can provide a soothing balm for educators feeling beset by parental demands, pressure to raise student test scores, and years of budget constraints. Good examples offer models for the way forward. Both are needed to grow the next generation of school district leaders.

Learn about our previous leaders.

— The Editors

Leaders To Learn From

Produced with support from The Wallace Foundation, at www.wallacefoundation.org