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Jeff Mayo named finalist for National Superintendent of the Year

man in suit crossing his arms and smiling at the camera

Just four years into his tenure as Arlington Community Schools' superintendent, Jeff Mayo has been named a finalist as the National Superintendent of the Year by the National Association of School Superintendents (NASS)! Mayo was recently invited by NASS to be a featured superintendent in its publication, an honor which places him in the running for National Superintendent of the Year with 16 other superintendents across the nation – he’s the only representative in Tennessee.

“This incredible nomination truly speaks volumes to the leadership Superintendent Mayo has crafted during his tenure in ACS,” said Dr. Dale Viox, ACS Board of Education Chairman. “One of the things that really stands out about Mr. Mayo is his focus on keeping employees engaged through thoughtful and strategic communication practices. He regularly communicates with staff about important goals and priorities of the district, while also striving for an environment where employees feel valued and appreciated. To even be considered for such an honor at the state level is impressive, let alone nationally. I am honored to work alongside Superintendent Mayo as we dedicate ourselves to the employees and students of ACS.”

Now in his 36th year as an educator, Mayo began his career as a middle school science teacher before transitioning to administration, both at the school and district office levels. Much of his career has been spent in Human Resources, where he learned the value of focusing on positive employee engagement, morale and professional development. He brought that mindset with him when he helped form the district in 2014 as Chief of Staff and has since carried that momentum forward as superintendent.

Since being named superintendent in May 2020, Mayo has been recognized with several awards and recognitions, including:

  • ACS being voted by employees as the #1 Top Workplace in the Memphis-Metro Region for two consecutive years, a first for any local school district;

  • Recipient of the 2022 Top Workplace Leadership Award, given annually to one leader in Memphis for exemplifying outstanding leadership based on employees’ perceptions;

  • Tennessee Department of Education’s Coordinated School Health Superintendent of the Year for the implementation of strategies aimed at protecting both the physical and mental health of students and staff

Mayo’s leadership in Human Resources has also won him the American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) Innovative Programs and Practices Award for creating the ACS PLUS Experience, a customer service program that recognizes and celebrates employees for providing an A+ experience for students, families and coworkers in the district. He’s also been published several times nationally in the AAEE Job Search Handbook for Educators for his expertise in employment applications.

As part of being a National Superintendent of the Year finalist, Mayo is a featured member of the National Association of School Superintendents. In his interview with NASS, Mayo spoke about the role of “today’s superintendent,” a position that, many times, requires them to navigate the cross section of legal and politics. “Most superintendents did not enter this work to be a politician, yet we find ourselves having to be equipped to be just that,” Mayo said in the interview. “Most of the legislation passed in my state is not friendly to public schools…so I find myself as a superintendent, along with my team, spending countless hours trying to contemplate how we will implement legislative decisions that are passed with no thought to the impact it will have on schools and students. We must be the gatekeepers when it pertains to protecting our students and employees from those outside deterrents.”

He also talked about the importance of superintendents breaking down the barriers to speaking about mental health in education. “It must be on the forefront, and available resources must be provided for employees and students,” he said. “Parents must also be equipped with resources to assist their children, and those resources have become a major priority in my school district.” 

The 2023 NASS National Superintendent of the Year will be named later this year.