The American Federation of State and County Municipal Employees Local 1644 (AFSCME) and the Georgia Federation of Public Service Employees (GFPSE) have named Atlanta Public Schools (APS) Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen as Georgia’s “Superintendent of the Year.”
The honor was announced on Monday, May 7, at the monthly meeting of the Atlanta Board of Education. A number of members of both organizations came forward to recognize the work of Carstarphen, the Board of Education and school administration.
“I am both humbled and honored to be named Superintendent of the Year by both AFSCME and GFPSE, and I want to thank both organizations for their support of our mission,” Carstarphen said. “This honor speaks to the impact of the work our hardworking employees have been doing across the District over the past four years, and I accept this honor on behalf of everyone in APS who supports our mission and vision to prepare our students to be college and career ready.”
A committee of educators and community leaders led by AFSCME and GFPSE reviewed school districts throughout the state of Georgia and evaluated best practices to determine this honor. They selected Carstarphen as the state’s “Superintendent of the Year” for her “transformational leadership, the implementation of positive changes, effective labor relations, improved student achievement, and effective student engagement.”
Carstarphen credited her family, growing up in her hometown of Selma, Ala., and her educational experience for nurturing her passion to lead in the service for children. Carstarphen’s leadership at APS has helped secure significant student performance gains in APS, a school district with more than 52,000 students, 6,300 employees, 98 learning sites and a $1 billion annual budget. Graduation rates in APS have reached 77 percent, an 18 percentage point increase during her four-year tenure.
She began her education career as a middle school teacher and has 20 years of education and experience serving in diverse, major metropolitan public school districts, including Austin, Texas; Saint Paul, Minnesota; and the District of Columbia.
Carstarphen earned a doctorate in administration, planning and social policy, with a concentration in urban superintendency from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She earned a bachelor of arts in political science and Spanish from Tulane University and master of education degrees from Auburn University and Harvard University. She has also studied at the University of Seville, Spain, and University of Innsbruck, Austria.