TOPEKA – The Kansas School Superintendents’ Association has selected El Dorado Superintendent Sue Givens as the 2017 Kansas Superintendent of the Year. The El Dorado Public Schools has been led by Givens since 2007.
Candidates for Superintendent of the Year are assessed according to their professionalism, communication, community involvement, and leadership in meeting the needs of students. As Kansas Superintendent of the Year, Ms. Givens will now be considered for the National Superintendent of the Year program. KSSA in cooperation with the Ogden Financial Group also provides a $1,000 scholarship to a high school senior to be selected by the Kansas Superintendent of the Year, Sue Givens.
When Sue Givens came to El Dorado as Superintendent in 2007, the district was headed into a third consecutive year as a Title I district “on improvement.” Sue determined that only by involving staff at all levels and committing to the process, did the district have any chance of systemic change. The impact of collaboratively developing and applying system-wide strategies for intervention anchored by progress monitoring has resulted in a continued closing of poverty and disability gaps in the El Dorado School District.
Supporting the board of education in long-range strategic planning since 2007 has further reinforced the district’s focus on removing barriers and providing equity for all students in all areas; from instruction to extracurricular activities to facilities. These goals were made more challenging due to an increasing student poverty rate and state funding support below the rate of inflation. This system-wide focus on accountability combined with persistent advocacy, has resulted in increased public confidence in the El Dorado schools exemplified by multiple collaborations with other local and area entities, and approval by voters of over 100 million dollars of building projects in the last decade.
A proud product of Kansas public education, Givens attended both Highland and Midway of Denton high schools, then earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Emporia State and Wichita State Universities, respectively. Formerly an assistant superintendent in Pratt, KS, she has also served as a middle and elementary school principal; as a Computer Consulting Teacher; and as an elementary and middle school math, language arts and computer teacher in various locations. Her teaching career also included coaching at middle and high school levels in multiple sports.
Sue has served in professional organization leadership roles as president of the Kansas School Superintendents Association (KSSA), president and secretary-treasurer of the Kansas Association of Middle School Administrators (KAMSA), president of the United School Administrators of Kansas (USA), and as chair of the Kansas Learning First Alliance. Professional recognitions include being named a Kansas Master Teacher, Keys for Networking Principal of the Year, USA-Kansas Distinguished Service Award recipient, Kansas Superintendent of the Year finalist, Leadership Kansas Class of 2013, and one of 50 Kansans You Should Know. “Involvement in professional organizations has never been a question. My colleagues in KAMSA, USA and KSSA have provided support and resources both professionally and personally. I am proud to stand with them in advocating for Kansas public education.” stated Givens.
Sue also serves as a board member of the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce, El Dorado Inc., and El Dorado Salvation Army Advisory, the El Dorado Chamber Business and Education Action Team and e-Community Review Board, as Secretary and Producer of the Miss Kansas Pageant, Inc, and she is a member of Trinity United Methodist Church and the El Dorado Rotary Club. Sue and husband, Bruce Givens, a special education administrator, have been married for 39 years and have one daughter who resides in El Dorado with her husband and their two daughters.
A determined competitor and outspoken advocate for her students, her district, and Kansas public education; one hallmark of Sue’s leadership, regardless of setting, is that she will never settle for good enough. Givens’ explanation for this persistence is, “Our calling as public educators is to provide every student with the opportunities to be much more than good enough, instead we must provide the support and resources to develop a desire for excellence. I hope my legacy will be, that I never walked away from that calling and always had the courage to say what others would not, when things were only good enough.”