Each year, AASA, The School Superintendents Association recognizes 50 school system leaders from each state who are making a positive difference in the lives of the students they serve. Four finalists are identified from the 50 state-level winners, and one national winner is selected.
This year, finalist Quincy Natay of Chinle, Arizona has been recognized for his accomplishments and dedication to his community.
Alumnus of Chinle High School, a Navajo child born into poverty, Quincy Natay defied the odds to become the superintendent whose leadership would inspire desperately needed change. When Mr. Natay became superintendent, CUSD was nearly the lowest performing reservation district in Arizona. When he pointed to higher performance expectations people complained loudly that it was too hard for “these kids,” making the effort to embrace a rigorous, standards-based curriculum seem like an impossible feat.
CUSD is now in its 3rd year of producing the highest pass rates of any Reservation district in Arizona. What’s more, CUSD pass rates have also surpassed many non-reservation districts. People now believe “these kids” can do it! In fact, Quincy Natay has led CUSD to historic gains in student achievement and has planted a seed of change for the future of the Navajo community.
He is known to reference his own success story to validate research that students who experience a caring relationship with a teacher are more motivated to learn and demonstrate greater academic success. Understanding first-hand the benefits of education, he has dedicated his life to creating opportunities for generations of Navajo students attending Chinle Unified School District.
Mr. Natay has been instrumental in helping CUSD win many national awards for financial excellence from the Association of School Business Officials International and the Government Finance Officers Association. Mr. Natay has led many construction projects that have culminated in CUSD students now having the opportunity to learn in some of the finest school facilities in Arizona. The most well-known of these is the Wildcat Den which was featured recently in the Netflix documentary Basketball or Nothing. The film has been influential in raising national awareness to the challenges that children on reservations must overcome to pursue post-secondary education.
Quincy Natay has served on the NAFIS board for many years and is currently the board secretary. He has been a longstanding member of the NIISA (National Indian Impacted Schools Association) board and is currently the board president. Due to his fiscal leadership, teachers in Chinle enjoy a salary schedule that represents among the highest average teacher pay in Arizona and is just above the national average.
Quincy joins the ranks of many wonderful previous Arizona Superintendents of the year, you can learn more about them here.
About Superintendent of the Year:
The superintendent of the Year program, sponsored by First Student and AASA, The School superintendents Association, pays tribute to the talent and vision of the men and women who lead our nation’s public schools.
Each state association recognizes the accomplishments of one exemplary superintendent, evaluating them on their:
- Leadership for Learning – creativity in successfully meeting the needs of students in his or her 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.
The national winner of the award will be chosen from four finalists who are selected from state level winners and announced at AASA’s National Conference on Education, Feb. 17, in Nashville, TN.