The North Carolina Alliance for School Leadership Development (NCASLD) and the North Carolina School Superintendents’ Association (NCSSA) have announced the selection of the following as the recipients of the inaugural Dr. Samuel Houston Leadership Award.

Dr. Ve-Lecia Council, Assistant Superintendent of the Pitt County Schools; Dr. Jeremy Gibbs, Chief Academic Officer, Transylvania County Schools; Dr. Heather Mullins, Chief Academic Officer of the Newton-Conover City Schools and Dr. Otis Smallwood, Assistant Superintendent of the Jones County Schools – each received recognition.

This annual award is presented to a graduate or graduates of the North Carolina Alliance for School Leadership Development’s 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 Dr. Samuel Houston, the current president and Chief Executive Officer of the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education (SMT) Center.

Dr. Houston served as superintendent of the Mooresville Graded School District for 10 years where he opened the first year-round school in North Carolina. Dr. Houston also 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. Additionally, Dr. Houston was the first executive director of the University of North Carolina Center for Leadership Development. Dr. 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.

NCSSA Executive Director Jack Hoke said Dr. Council, Dr. Gibbbs, Dr. Mullins and Dr. Smallwood exemplify the traits that guide Dr. Sam Houston’s career in educational leadership. They have a commitment to continuous improvement, high standards of ethical conduct, strategic planning, improving student performance and meeting the needs of the 21st century workforce. I am very proud of these Dr. Sam Houston Leadership Award winners and look forward to seeing them progress in educational leadership.

Each award winner was presented a check for $1,000 to be used for personal professional development.