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Dr. McGowan Named 2023 AASA National Superintendent of the Year

Superintendent of the Year Dr. McGowan

Brighton Central School District Superintendent Dr. Kevin McGowan has been named the 2023 AASA National Superintendent of the Year. The announcement came Thursday, Feb. 16 at the National Conference on Education, hosted by AASA, The School Superintendents Association in San Antonio, Texas. 

Now in its 36th year, the National Superintendent of the Year program is co-sponsored by AASA, Corebridge Financial (formerly known as AIG Life & Retirement) and First Student and celebrates the contributions and leadership of public school superintendents. ­  

The other National Superintendent of the Year finalists were: PJ Caposey, Meridian Community Unit School District #223, Stillman Valley, Ill.; Matthew Hillmann, Northfield Public Schools, ISD 659, Northfield, Minn.; and Trent North, Douglas County School System, Douglasville, Ga. 

“We’re on the right path,” said Dr. McGowan, when asked in January what it means to be a National Superintendent of the Year finalist. “The work that’s happening in our district for children is approaching a place where people are noticing the gaps we’ve closed for children, the work that’s gone into that and the leadership that’s been provided to support each child and each family. This is really such a recognition of that work."  

“Navigating the myriad of challenges that school districts face on an ongoing basis requires unparalleled leadership. Superintendent Kevin McGowan exemplifies a leader who is excelling on the job on behalf of the learning community he serves, and I am so pleased to congratulate him as the 2023 National Superintendent of the Year,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “It is truly an honor to recognize Kevin, as well as our other three finalists, PJ Caposey, Matthew Hillmann and Trent North, for serving as champions for children and empowering their students to lead us into a better world. I thank Corebridge Financial and First Student for supporting our program.”    

The AASA National Superintendent of the Year program is open to all U.S. superintendents who plan to continue in the profession. The program also honors Canadian and other international school superintendents. The applicants were measured against the following criteria: 

  • Leadership for learning – creativity in successfully meeting the needs of students in the 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 

Dr. McGowan has been the Superintendent of the Brighton Central School District since 2009. He began his career as an elementary teacher in the Starpoint Central School District before becoming a High School Assistant Principal at Iroquois High School and then an elementary principal at Wales Primary School. Prior to Brighton, Kevin was the Superintendent of the Warsaw Central School District in Wyoming County.    

Under his leadership in Brighton, the district has emphasized that excellence is for everybody. Brighton has closed achievement gaps by focusing on the needs of each individual child. Other recent highlights for the district include:  

  • ranked BCSD as the No. 1 district in both the Rochester area and Upstate New York in its 2022 Best Schools Rankings.   

  • Niche ranked Brighton High School as the No. 1 high school in the Rochester area and Twelve Corners Middle School as the No. 2 middle school.  

  • Niche also ranked the district No. 1 for best places to teach in the Rochester area and No. 1 for best teachers in the Rochester area.  

  • Brighton High School was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2018 and a NYS Reward School for increased student achievement and closing gaps in student performance in 2017.  

  • BHS was named one of Newsweek’s Top 500 STEM High Schools in its nationwide 2020 ranking. BHS was ranked No. 1 in the Rochester area, No. 10 in New York, and No. 117 in the country for its excellence in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  

  • Twelve Corners Middle School was re-designated as an Essential Elements: School to Watch for 2021. This was the sixth time TCMS was selected.  

  • Council Rock Primary School became the first primary school in the United States to receive an International Habits of Mind School of Excellence Award in 2019.   

Kevin is a graduate of Canisius College with an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and a master's degree in Educational Leadership and Supervision. Kevin completed his doctoral work in Educational Leadership and Policy at the University at Buffalo. His dissertation was selected for presentation at the graduate research conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Most importantly, Kevin proudly holds the title of husband and dad in his Brighton household. Among his three children are two sons, one a high school senior who constantly reminds him of the need for more snow days, additional free periods, and better school food; one in college who bemoans the same concerns from his K-12 days; and a daughter in fifth grade who seems to enjoy her dad being in her classroom slightly more than her brother does and is generally more appreciative of his performance. His children and exceptionally supportive wife, an educator herself, help him keep perspective and focus our most important priorities - the needs of each and every child and all their families.