March 19, 2020: The Balsz Elementary School District Governing Board is excited to announce the selection of Dr. Arleen M. Kennedy as the newest Superintendent. Dr. Kennedy will replace retiring Superintendent Jeff Smith effective July 1.
Dr. Kennedy comes to Balsz from the St. David Unified School District in St. David, AZ where she served as Superintendent from July 2018 to present. Kennedy also served as a principal and supervisor in New Orleans, Louisiana; leading her students, families and faculty through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina— one of the most devastating natural disasters in the region, leaving more than one million families displaced. Kennedy has been hailed by National Geographic as an innovative school leader driving strong academic achievement.
With more than 25 years’ experience as an educator and school administrator in Maryland, Louisiana, South Carolina and Arizona, Dr. Kennedy brings a wealth of knowledge and practical experience in equity and urban leadership, which Balsz notes will be instrumental in closing the District’s achievement gap. Kennedy holds a Doctorate in Urban Educational Leadership from Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland; a Master in Arts in Teaching from the Citadel in South Carolina; a second Masters in Educational Administration from Charleston Southern University; and a Bachelor’s in Political Science from South Carolina State University.
After a very competitive selection process, with more than sixty-three (63) applicants, Kennedy was selected. The Board conducted an on-line survey and held focus groups involving staff, parents, students and community leaders to gather input regarding the qualities that the community would like to see in the new Superintendent. With assistance of the Ray & Associates Superintendent Search Firm, the Board narrowed the candidate pool from sixty-three (63) to the top ten (10) and from there to the top two (2) finalists. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, all interviews were conducted via Zoom technology to promote and allow maximum community participation and engagement.
“After reviewing a number of well qualified applicants for the Balsz Superintendent position, Dr. Kennedy was a clear choice hands down. The Board is elated! She comes highly recommended and is uniquely qualified to galvanize and lead the District through the pandemic—unifying our immigrant, refugee, homeless and other marginalized students and families, and supporting the work and vision of our outstanding teachers and principals,” says Channel Powe, Governing Board President.
“I am deeply honored to be selected as the new Superintendent of the Balsz School District. As the District prepares to navigate through the greatest challenges of COVID-19, it will be critically important that we foster principles of safety, health and well-being for each of our students, families, and faculty. Students will need our guidance reintegrating into their studies and families will require support, resources and services to access food/nutrition, technology, stable housing, etc. Our goal is to address the needs of the whole child which national data suggests creates educational equity and moves us closer toward closing the achievement gap. My work requires the full support of the entire Balsz family and community to ensure every student is on track to becoming their best self—breathing true life into the slogan “Believing in Balsz”.”
Click here for a video about Dr. Kennedy's work as a principal in New Orleans.
Habari! Meet Dr. Arleen Kennedy. Dr. Kennedy is currently a Superintendent in Southeast Arizona with over 26 years’ experience as an educator. Dr. Kennedy has served in an administrative capacity since 2003 and has experience in working in four states and in all grade configurations as a school and/or district leader. Dr. Kennedy currently holds a doctorate specifically in Urban Educational Leadership and also holds two master’s degrees, a bachelor’s degree and two educational specialist endorsements.
Dr. Kennedy is a dedicated and proven effective superintendent whose has risen and maintained the ADE state rating for her current district to an “A” rating in her high school and a “B” rating in her elementary/middle schools. Dr. Kennedy has two years of outstanding and satisfactory ratings on her annual evaluations and believe the best is yet to come.
Dr. Kennedy maintains membership in the Arizona School Administrators (ASA) organization, the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), the Fort Huachuca Branch of the NAACP, the Arizona School Board Association (ASBA) and the Association for Supervision of Curriculum Development (ASCD). Dr. Kennedy is also a member of the Eastern Star, Sisters of Faith #44 organization.
Dr. Kennedy believes she is very much a ‘people’ person and believes in building strong and positive relationships with the staff, parents, the community, and other key stakeholders. Dr. Kennedy is very personable and always strives to have an open-door policy. Dr. Kennedy says her goal is to make the Balsz School District the destination school district in Phoenix, AZ.