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Leading for Equity: Changing Lives and Realizing Dreams with No Exceptions

Thursday, October 22, 2020 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EDT

Leading for Equity

Presented by Dr. Gladys Cruz, District Superintendent, Questar III BOCES, Castleton, New York, and Dr. Lupita Hightower, Superintendent, Tolleson Elementary School District, Tolleson, Arizona
Moderated by Dr. Carol Kelley, Superintendent, Oak Park Elementary District 97, Oak Park, Illinois

Hosted by AASA, The Superintendents Association 
AASA’s Leadership Network, providing premier professional learning for educational leaders

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Watch presenters Dr. Gladys Cruz, District Superintendent, Questar III BOCES, and Dr. Lupita Hightower, Superintendent, Tolleson Elementary School District, as they highlight the work being done by students, faculty, staff, parents/guardians and community members to advance district visions of creating a positive learning environment for all students that is equitable, inclusive and focused on the whole child. Each leader will explore three questions: (1) What am I doing? (2) Why are we doing this? And (3) How do I make it better? A discussion on belief systems and high expectations for all students will be led by moderator Dr. Carol Kelley, Superintendent of Oak Park Elementary District 97.

Essential Questions Include:

  • What types of actions are effective to ensure an intentional equity agenda?
  • How can districts meet the vision that every child is capable of success without exception?
  • Why is examining a district’s own strategies and practices needed to shine a light on disparities within the system?

Viewers will learn about strategies to address systemic disparities and inequities in order to benefit all students.


Gladys CruzAbout the Presenters

Over a 30 + year span, Dr. Gladys I. Cruz has established a distinguished career in education as a teacher and leader at the local, regional and state levels.
As District Superintendent for Questar III, Cruz is responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations of the Castleton-based BOCES (Board of Cooperative Education Services), reporting directly to the Board of Education. Along, with her leadership team, Cruz provides direction to 23 local school districts and oversees the delivery of more than 300 programs and services across New York State.
Since joining Questar III BOCES in 1998, Cruz has held a number of leadership positions including Chief Operating Officer/Deputy Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Director of School Improvement and BETAC Specialist.
Cruz holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and a master’s degree in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology from the State University of New York at Albany. In addition, she holds a master’s degree in Bilingual Education and a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and English from La Universidad del Turabo in Puerto Rico.


Lupita HightowerDr. Lupita Hightower is the Superintendent of Tolleson Elementary School District in Tolleson, Arizona. Lupita believes that together we make a difference and through expecting excellence and inspiring innovation, students will achieve greatness. Working with staff, parents and the greater community, Lupita leads through a focus on collaboration, adapting and implementing effective ideas, maintaining a flexible and innovative school environment, responding to the needs of each and every parent and student, and building strong relationships to support our families and community.

Dr. Hightower earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Innovation from Arizona State University. In 2019, Lupita was the Arizona School Superintendent of the Year Award for mid-size school districts, the National Latinx Superintendent of the Year, and the Cox Communications Hispanic Heritage Awardee. Dr. Hightower shares, “I am blessed to work in the field of education! I want to make sure that our students receive the preparation and opportunities they deserve to make their dreams for the future possible!”


Carol KelleyAbout the Host

Prior to joining Oak Park Elementary District 97 in Illinois, Dr. Carol Kelley spent three years as the superintendent of schools for the Branchburg Township School District in New Jersey. Before that, she served as the director for curriculum and instruction for Hunterdon Central Regional High School in New Jersey for three years. She was also a middle school teacher and principal in New Jersey for a number of years.

Kelley received her bachelor’s degree and doctorate in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. She also holds an MBA from the University of Virginia.

Dr. Kelley is an exemplary superintendent who received her bachelor’s degree and doctorate in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. She also holds an MBA from the University of Virginia. She has more than 25 years of progressive experience in K-12 educational settings with a background highlighted by professional training and achievement in the areas of education, product and service management. Mastery knowledge of evidence-based instructional practices with demonstrated ability for building collaborative relationships to support teachers and administration in raising student achievement are areas of focus. Dr. Kelley is deeply committed to playing a critical role in improving the academic and social success of ALL students.

Join the Leading for Equity community to network with educators, participate in online discussions, receive invitations to upcoming edWebinars, and view recordings of previous programs to earn CE certificates.


The AASA Leadership Network drives superintendent success, innovation and growth, shaping the future of public education while preparing students for what’s next. We are the largest, most diverse network of superintendents in America. Passionate and committed, we connect educational leaders to the professional learning, leadership development, relationships and partnerships they need to ensure a long career of impact.



Thursday, October 22, 2020
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EDT
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