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Outstanding Instructional Leader Award

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Every year California ASCD selects an Outstanding Instructional Leader (OIL) who has significantly impacted/influenced public education in California. Individuals, who influence, advocate for and support professional growth and instructional leadership to ensure success for each learner are nominated by their CASCD peers. The award is given in recognition of Helen Heffernan who provided California with outstanding service, keen insight, vision and leadership. 


School site and district leaders have been faced with enormous challenges; yet with determination, talent, and outstanding leadership, school is continuing. California is fortunate to have outstanding educational leaders who exemplify the best qualities of learning, teaching and leading. These are people who demonstrate true understanding of curriculum, instruction, and assessment and inspire others through their leadership. CASCD recognizes just one of these individuals with the CASCD Outstanding Instructional Leader (OIL) Award each year. Nomination guidelines, criteria, and directions can be found at the link below; nomination materials are due by December 15, 2023.

Here is a link to the Nomination form if you would like to nominate a worthy candidate.   OIL Award Nomination form 2024.pdf

California ASCD Congratulates our 2024 Outstanding Instructional Leader Award Recipient

Dr. Paul Gothold

Dr. Paul Gothold has been named the CASCD Outstanding Instructional Leader (OIL) Awardee - March 2024

The 2024 Award Winner, Dr. Paul Gothold was appointed as San Diego County Superintendent of Schools in 2017 after serving as Superintendent of the Lynwood Unified School District, where during his tenure, the district demonstrated the highest academic growth for two years in the state of California as measured by California Standards Test scores.  In the sever years he led Lynwood, graduation rates went from 58% to almost 90% with all historically underserved subgroups outperforming state averages in every academic marker.  In addition, Lynwood was awarded the college board AP District of the Year for simultaneously increasing Advanced Placement participation and test passage rates, an honor bestowed for only three districts in the entire country. 

Dr. Gothold has over 27 years of experience in K-12 education.  He previously served the Montebello Unified School District and the Los Angeles County Office of Education.  He is a member of the San Diego Taxpayers Association, the Association of California School Administrators, and the California County Superintendents, among other organizations.

In his current role and under his leadership the past six years, the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) has provided guidance and resources for close to 500,000 students, that not only include the 42 districts and 130 charter schools in San Diego County, but also schools throughout the state, nationally, and internationally.  SDCOE has been identified as the state leader in equity, cybersecurity, and bilingual education, and serves as a geographical lead, providing guidance and training for regional county offices.  Additionally, SDCOE also provides training and support statewide in the areas of mental health, drug prevention/intervention, American Indian studies, and others.

Dr. Gothold began his teaching career working with adjudicated youth; that passion and commitment continues today by supporting SDCOE's own schools, which are focused on doing whatever it takes to improve outcomes for students experiencing homelessness, those involved in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, pregnant/parenting teens, and students from other historically underserved populations.

With San Diego County touching the U.S.-Mexico border, SDCOE has served unaccompanied minors and transborder students, or those who cross the U.S.-Mexico border to attend school.  While the exact number of transborder students is unknown, it's estimated that the Tijuana-San Diego region has thousands.

One program that Gothold led to support unaccompanied minors was Futuro Brillante at the San Diego Convention Center, which served as a temporary shelter for them in 2021.  The ad hoc school ran classes twice a week for two hours a day, serving over 3,500 students for four months.  The effort drew employees from across SDCOE departments to create a curriculum, teach, and provide materials, technical needs and translation support for unaccompanied migrant students.

Dr. Gothold has been recognized and received numerous awards from community groups, legislators, parent groups, and educational organizations.  In January 2023, he was appointed by Senate President Pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins to the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence governing board.  He has also been awarded the Executive Leadership Award by the California County Superintendents and Justus A. Prentice Award from the national Association of Educational Services Agencies for his work in developing programs and increasing education opportunities and outcomes.

Dr. Gothold, a mentor and advisor for sitting and aspiring superintendents throughout the state, received his Doctor of Education from the University of Southern California, where he had served as an adjunct professor.  He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Whittier College, where he has also seved as an adjunct professor.

The OIL Award is given annually to recognize an individual educator who has significantly contributed to education in California. 

Previous award winners include Dwight Bonds, Executive Director CAAASA (2023), Dr. Gina Potter, San Ysidro School District Superintendent (2022), and Cynthia "Cindy" Marten, Deputy Secretary of Education and former San Diego Superintendent (2021).

California ASCD is proud to announce Dwight Bonds, Executive Director of CAAASA, winner of the 2023 Outstanding Instructional Leader Award. 

Dwight Bonds, Dwight Bonds, an educator for over 50 years, is the Executive Director of the California Association of African American Superintendents and Administrators (CAAASA).  CAAASA, which is celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, is comprised of educational leaders committed to identifying and addressing the critical issues in education that impact all students, but especially issues relative to the status and performance of African-American students in California.  Under the outstanding leadership of Dwight Bonds, CAAASA has grown its membership exponentially; strengthened key partnerships to support improving experiences and outcomes for African American students; and is recognized as a critical voice in addressing the underrepresentation of African American teachers and administrators.  Dwight Bonds has worked tirelessly during his 16 year tenure as Executive Director to identify and expand opportunities to provide high quality, student-driven professional development and establish professional learning networks with state and local entities focused on eliminating disparities and improving educational systems for students of color.  Most recently, CAAASA's mission has broadened to include supporting health and wellness for students and families of color through partnerships and grants that provide health and dental screenings and information, immunizations, school supplies, food, clothing, and other essential resources.

Award presented by Katherine Castleberry and Dr. Michele Bowers, CASCD Board of Director members on March 15, 2023.

2022 Winner


Dr. Gina Potter, San Ysidro School District Superintendent has been named CASCD Outstanding Instructional Leader (OIL) Award.  The OIL Award is given annually to recognize an individual educator who has significantly contributed to education in California.  Dr. Gina Potter has served in the field of education for over 30 years within 7 culturally diverse school districts throughout California.  Dr. Potter is a third-generation educator in south San Diego County, having followed in the footsteps of both her parents and grandfather who are all retired South Bay educators.  Dr. Potter is currently the Vice President Legislative Action for Association of California Schools Administrators (ACSA). 

Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction summarized Dr. Potter's many contributions to education as follows, "I have had the opportunity to personally work with and observe Dr. Potter addressing the needs of our students learning the English language.  She has extensive experience in leading curriculum adoptions and ensuring that students receive the proper tools to help them succeed.  She is a strong advocate for holding our schools and school systems accountable to maximize student learning at all levels." 

In addition, Dr. Potter has established exemplary instructional programs such as International Baccalaureate, Dual Language and STEM Academies in schools and districts throughout the state with the highest percentages of English Language Learners, poverty and unhoused youth.  Most recently, during the recent pandemic crisis, Dr. Potter has provided exemplary leadership for the students and staff of San Ysidro School District. 


021 Winner

Cynthia "Cindy" Marten was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the Deputy Secretary on May 11, 2021.  Before joining ED, Marten served as the superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District since 2013.  She has spent 32 years as an educator, holding various roles of increasing responsibility as a teacher, literacy specialist, vice principal, and principal.  She is the author of "Word Crafting: Teaching Spelling, Grades K-6," which places an emphasis on literacy as a key to students' success. 

As superintendent, she directed implementation of the district's Vision 2020 commitment to a meaningful graduation for all students, with the district achieving the highest graduation rate among big-city districts in California and the fastest reading growth of large urban districts nationwide, in 2019.

In addition to her emphasis on academics, Marten has been a champion for health and wellness, putting in place an award-winning wellness policy for staff and students. Under her leadership, San Diego Unified received Gold Recognition in the American Heart Association's Workplace Health Achievement Index for efforts to support employee wellness, and multiple San Diego Unified schools received "America's Healthiest Schools" award from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Prior to being appointed superintendent, for ten years Marten worked in one of San Diego's most ethnically diverse and economically challenged school communities, at Central Elementary School in City Heights. As a teacher, instructional leader, and later as principal, she established a commitment to educating the whole child through an emphasis on social and emotional learning and the arts, combined with academic rigor.

2020 Winner

Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, Santa Clara County Superintendent


Dr. Mary Ann Dewan was selected as the CASCD Outstanding Instructional Educator (OIL) Award for many reasons.  She has vast experience spanning over 30 years in education.  She has done extensive work in early learning, launching the Strong Start Coalition composed of community leaders and organizations to expand high quality early learning opportunities throughout Santa Clara County.  She also demonstrates her commitment and focus on equity through the Inclusions Collaborative to provide more opportunities for students with disabilities to be meaningfully included.  Her leadership also led to the My Name, My Identity - asking educators to pledge to pronouncing students' names correctly to foster a sense of belonging and to build positive relationships within the classroom.

Most recently, as the Santa Clara County Superintendent, she has supported the 32 superintendents in the county in navigating through school closures by providing advocacy and garnering local financial support for connectivity and device needs within districts.  She has organized twice weekly meetings with the Public Health Department and County Counsel to keep the district leaders apprised and supported.  Dr. Dewan stepped forward providing resources and guidance during this most difficult time, advocating and supporting superintendents in a thoughtful, calm and deliberate manner.  Her graceful leadership and critical listening provided the necessary support to allow for collective and timely support to each respective community.  She is certainly an educational leader worthy of emulation.

2019 Co-Winner

Dr. Thomas "Tom" Adams, Deputy Superintendent, CDE:

 has served as the Deputy Superintendent of the Performance, Planning and   Technology Branch and the Deputy Superintendent of the Teaching and Learning   Support Branch.  In his 22 years at the California Department of Education (CDE),   Tom mainly worked in the Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources   Division and served as the Executive Director of the Instructional Quality   Commission.  Some of his professional accomplishments include the English Language   Arts/English Language Development Curriculum Framework for Public Schools (2014) and   the History-Social Science Curriculum Framework for Public Schools (2016).  He received   his doctorate in modern European history from  University of California, Davis, and earned his BA in history from California State University, Chico.  Tom is also a member of the Board of Education for the Davis Joint Unified School District, was elected initially in 2014 and re-elected in 2018.

2019 Co-Winner

Michael R. McCormick, Superintendent of the Val Verde Unified School District:

 He is known for his passion for innovation and helping students acquire their higher education aspirations.  Before becoming Superintendent, Michael served for six years as the Assistant Superintendent for Education Services for Val Verde USD.  Under his leadership, VVUSD has been recognized by the Leadership Policy Institute (2019) as a California school district that is “Beating the Odds” for African American and Hispanic students and Education Trust West named Val Verde USD as, “tops among California districts Closing the Achievement Gap.”  He participated as a member of the Riverside County contingent of educators summoned by the White House to a meeting at the U.S. Department of Education to create the Riverside County Education Collaborative and connect with the College Day of Opportunity.

2018 Winner

Charlene Stringham

Charlene Stringham supports educators in Tulare County in their work with students to meet the challenges of the 21st century. As a leader in Tulare County, she is a strong advocate for all students and has garnered partnerships with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Stanford University to improve elementary math instruction. In addition to her work in instructional services for Tulare County, she has presented on topics related to policy analysis, curriculum and instruction, and instructional leadership.

2017 Winner

Dr. Linda Kaminski

As superintendent of Azusa Unified School District, Dr. Linda Kaminski has taken vision, courage, leadership, and intent and blended them into a coherent system to bring results to Azusa. Successful examples of her work include supporting professional learning communities, positive behavioral interventions and supports, assessments built to mirror expectations of state standards, investment in leadership, and successfully passing a bond to modernize facilities.

Dr. Kaminski received her Bachelor Degree from Santa Clara University, Master of Science from Pepperdine University, and Master of Education and Doctor of Education from Harvard University.

2016 Winners

Dr. Mike Hendricks is being recognized for his 36 years of service to the children of our state. In his current role as the head of Charter Oak Unified School District, he is known for his vision and focus on transforming curriculum and instruction. He has also made an impact statewide through his active service in ACSA and his passion for teaching future educators at the university level. Dr. Hendricks has served in many roles with CASCD and is currently chair of the Educator Advocate Committee.

Dr. Kevin Silberberg, Superintendent of Panama Buena-Vista School District, is being recognized for his statewide leadership in improving education through innovative and effective use of technology. He was an original member of the TICAL Leadership Cadre and has an extensive resume of presentations and leadership roles which have built the capacity of educators across the state in improving 21st century learning for all students. 

Past Winners

1999-2000                 Bob and Sue Garmston
2002-2003 Dr. Glen W. Thomas
Dr. Joann Merrick
2003-2004 Michele Garside
2005-2006 Tony L. Spears
Jeanie Cash 
2008 Alice Petrossian
Rob Hudson
2011 Sue Stickel
2012 George Manthey
2013 Karen Staph Walters
Vicki Barber
2014 Sherry Skelly Griffith
Rowland Baker
2015 Ellen Moir

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ASCD CaliforniaPhone: (530) 520-9412
Mailing: PO Box 1841
Oroville, CA 95965

The California Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (CASCD) is a diverse community of educators throughout California committed to promoting exemplary practices that ensure all learners reach their fullest potential.


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