By Daniel Larios
Special to The Lookout
February 7, 2014 -- Sandra Lyon, who heads the Santa Monica-Malibu School District, was named the top superintendent in Los Angeles County, district officials announced Thursday.
In naming her Superintendent of the year, Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) for the L.A. region cited Lyon, who has headed the local district for nearly three years, for her "outstanding leadership."
District officials called Lyon a “perfect match for the district” when the School Board hired her in May 2011 after a more than six-month nationwide search.
Last year, the District posted gains in the State’s Academic Performance Index, which is used to evaluate schools’ progress from year to year. The index compiles scores from standardized tests in key disciplines -- mathematics, English, science and history.
The District of some 11,300 also averted State budget cuts and managed to retain its program, thanks in part to fundraising efforts by the Education Foundation.
A 28-year education veteran, Lyon left her position as Chief Leadership Officer in the Palmdale School District to assume her post in the Santa Monica-Malibu District.
A journalism major, Lyon embarked on her career in education soon after receiving a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction and an Administrative Credential from the California State University at Bakersfield.
She began as a high school teacher in the Antelope Valley School District, then moved to the Lancaster School District, where she served as a teacher as well as an administrator.
Lyon then spent two years working as a private professional development consultant for Thinking Maps, Inc., a company that specializes in professional staff development in the education field.
Returning to the public sector, Lyon served as Principal/Superintendent of the one-school Hughes-Elizabeth Lakes School District, which earned a California Distinguished School designation under her leadership before joining the Palmdale School District.
Superintendent Lyon's name will now be put forward for nomination for ACSA’s State Superintendent of the Year award by Region 14 President Katherine Castlebury.
Established in 1971, the ACSA is the "largest umbrella organization for school leaders in the nation, serving more than 14,500 school leaders," according to the organization’s website.
"The mission of the Association of California School Administrators, the driving force of education in California and beyond, is to ensure the creation of communities of learning and teaching that serve both the aspirations of individual students and the greater good of society, through this unique and indispensable coalition," the website states.