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4J Superintendent Is Finalist for National Top Honor

Dr. Gustavo Balderas is 1 of 4 finalists for National Superintendent of the Year 

Dr. Gustavo Balderas, superintendent of Eugene School District 4J since 2015, is one of four finalists in the U.S. to be named National Superintendent of the Year.

Dr. Balderas was named the 2020 Oregon Superintendent of the Year by the Oregon Association of School Executives and Confederation of Oregon School Administrators earlier this fall, out of Oregon’s 197 school districts. This recognition nominated him for the National Superintendent of the Year Award from the American Association of School Administrators. On December 17, Dr. Balderas was announced as one of four finalists for the top U.S. honor.

The National Superintendent of the Year Award is the nation’s highest honor for school superintendents and is designed to recognize the outstanding leadership of active, front-line superintendents. In consideration for the national award, each State Superintendent of the Year is evaluated on four key criteria:

  • Leadership for Learning—creativity in successfully meeting the needs of students in their school system
  • Communication—strength in both personal and organizational communication
  • Professionalism—constant improvement of administrative knowledge and skills, while providing professional development opportunities and motivation to others on the education team
  • Community Involvement—active participation in local community activities and an understanding of regional, national, and international issues

“Gustavo Balderas is a model for student-centered leadership in public education. He is respected by educators across the state not just because he works tirelessly for kids, but because he does so with unmatched integrity, humility, and professionalism,” said Candy Armstrong, North Wasco County School District Superintendent and president of OASE, when the state award was announced.

Dr. Balderas is a product of Oregon’s public school system as well as a leader in it. He was raised as the child of migrant farm workers in eastern Oregon, attended schools in Nyssa, a small Oregon town near the Idaho border, and earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Oregon universities. He has spent most of his nearly 30-year education career in Oregon and is known as a statewide leader in educational equity. He became superintendent of the Eugene School District in 2015.

“Dr. Balderas has been an exceptional leader for our schools and has transformed the way we look at education for our kids,” said Anne Marie Levis, Chair of the Eugene School Board. “He is laser-focused on results for our students, insightful in the work that he does and knowledgeable about what makes a difference for our students and their achievement. Our district is thrilled that he is being honored.”

Dr. Balderas is known as a statewide leader in educational equity and has made meaningful progress on equity issues in Eugene. For example, with his leadership, nearly 40% of school principals and 30% of all administrators in 4J now are people of color—a far higher percentage than other districts in Oregon and on track with the state’s priority for employing staff who reflect the students we serve. Dr. Balderas is a co-founder and past president of the Oregon Association of Latino Administrators, and serves in a leadership role with the national Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents.

“Gus is a listener, collaborator, and strategic problem solver. He is a constant source of counsel and information for myself and other educators throughout the state of Oregon and beyond,” said Hillsboro School District Superintendent Mike Scott, a longtime colleague. “His ability to build relationships, see issues from a variety of perspectives, and maintain focus on a larger vision for student achievement makes him an excellent choice for Superintendent of the Year.”

In addition to his work as superintendent of Eugene School District 4J, Dr. Balderas serves in other local and statewide positions. He is the Superintendent Advisor to the Oregon State Board of Education, a member of the Executive Board of the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA), a member of the COSA Equity Advisory Board, and a board member of the Oregon Department of Education English Learner Advisory Group. Locally in Eugene, he serves on the boards of United Way of Lane County, the Eugene Chamber of Commerce, Trillium Community Health Plan, Connected Lane County, the Lane Early Learning Alliance, and PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center Community Health Board.

Dr. Balderas will be honored as a State Superintendent of the Year and finalist for the national award at the AASA National Conference on Education in San Diego in February. The final selection for National Superintendent of the Year will be announced on February 13.


4J Superintendent Gustavo Balderas
Have Coffee With the Superintendent
National Superintendent of the Year Award


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