Central office, co-administrator leaders shine brightly

June 23, 2017

ACSA is honoring this year’s Administrator of the Year Award recipients, and each is being profiled in EdCal leading up to the formal awards gala at the 2017 Leadership Summit in San Jose.

This week, we get to know Judy Flores of Shasta COE and Trent Duffey of Grass Valley SD. These leaders represent excellence and commitment to California’s public education students and to their profession.


Judy Flores, assistant superintendent of Instructional Services, Shasta COE

As a sixth grader, Judy Flores was given the opportunity to spend time every day helping in a first grade classroom. That experience led to a career in education and now being honored as Central Office Administrator of the year for 2017.

“I found that I really enjoyed helping others learn and grow,” said Flores, who has served for 10 years as assistant superintendent of instructional services at the Shasta County Office of Education.

“From the time I began teaching, I had not set out to be an administrator, but found that I really liked helping others and sharing my learning with others to help us collectively improve our student outcomes.”



Flores’ mindset of helping others learn stayed with her as she took on various teaching positions within Hayward Unified School District from 1985-90 and Enterprise Elementary School District from 1990-00. In 2000, she became Enterprise’s curriculum and staff development coordinator, followed by director of instruction from 2004-07. She moved to the Shasta COE in 2007, where she has ensured professional development for more than 500 north state teachers and impacted learning outcomes for more than 20,000 students.

“I was given opportunities to move up through various leadership positions always striving to learn from books I would read, colleagues of whom I asked questions, and mentors whose experience, example and wisdom helped to guide me in steps forward,” Flores said. “It is rewarding to see the impact I’ve been able to have because of great teams of people with whom I’ve been fortunate to work and learn.”

She has always loved to learn and see life from the perspective of others, and she is inspired to share what she has learned. For example, she created a training for Shasta County districts and participating charter schools on how to set goals using an improvement science perspective.

“Through that training, I was able to share key learnings and help our leadership teams to think strategically about determining goals and action steps in light of the LCAP process,” she said. “I enjoy this work of thinking deeply, sharing ideas with others to improve the approach and content. It is great to see teams then use this information.”

During her time at the Shasta COE, Flores has been able to lead a variety of initiatives that have brought the county’s 25 school districts together in pursuit of stronger outcomes for students. Through the cradle-to-career initiative Reach Higher Shasta, she is proud to have facilitated or co-facilitated several collaborative efforts, including leading K-8 Committee development of K-2 math assessments and agreement on a common reading assessment for K-3; High School Committee agreement to give the PSAT 8-9 in all districts that feed into a high school district, as well as agreement on common measures to chart progress within high schools; Counseling Initiative establishment of data to measure progress on aims; and Early Childhood Committee development with First 5 Shasta to develop, pilot and implement a Kindergarten Readiness Snapshot.

In addition, Flores has written or provided the oversight to bring more than $30 million in grants to Shasta County schools.

This last year, she was asked to lead a California County Superintendents Educational Services Association effort to provide a training series for county office teams on the new accountability system and revised Local Control and Accountability Plan template. There were several goals for the training series, including drawing on expertise in county offices statewide to build the capacity of COE staff to take this work with districts and internal programs beyond compliance to develop greater consistency across the state regarding the state account-ability system and the revised template.

Through CCSESA, Flores has stayed actively involved with the Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee and received the CCSESA Star and Professional Publication awards.

This spring, she interviewed for and was appointed to complete the term, through December 2018, as Shasta County superintendent of schools, replacing former ACSA president Tom Armelino, who accepted a position as executive director of the National Association of School Superintendents.

“With unanimous support from our board and strong commitment both from our local districts and internal staff, I look forward to continuing the great work we have been involved in over the last decade in Shasta County,” Flores said.


Trent Duffey, assistant principal, Lyman Gilmore Middle School, Grass Valley SD

For many educational leaders, the first step on the school administrator career ladder is that of co-administrator. This position can be an excellent way to transition into administration, as candidates are often stepping out of the classroom, but into a position where there is still a lot of interaction with students.

Because of the nature of the position, a good co-administrator can be worth their weight in gold to a school site. Thus, Lyman Gilmore Middle School in Grass Valley SD considers itself fortunate to have the services of Trent Duffey, ACSA’s 2017 Elementary Co-Administrator of the Year.

Stepping into administration was a natural fit for Duffey, who got his start as a Teacher on Special Assignment back in 2011, performing instructional rounds and observations in 5-10 classrooms, under the supervision of site administration. In turn, his observations helped inform district leadership about quality instructional practices and methodologies. Eventually, Duffey moved into his current position in 2013.

As with so many ACSA members, Duffey felt called to the profession of educator, and ultimately school leader.

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and have a positive influence on kids,” Duffey said. “I feel becoming an administrator allowed me to increase that sphere of influence.”

Stepping up his responsibilities seems like a very natural thing for Duffey. Principal Chris Roberts noted on the nomination form, that, “It’s common to hear a staff member say, ‘Trent is the hardest working staff member at Lyman Gilmore.’”

Duffey, in turn, says he draws his inspiration from those around him.

“(I’m inspired by) the kids, the teachers and the school community,” Duffey said. “It’s all about creating relationships of trust. I really believe in the truism that, ‘people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’ I feel that by supporting kids and teachers, I am helping better our community and invest in our future.”

Duffey said he draws joy from seeing kids work hard and achieve their goals.

“One of the favorite parts of last week was playing 15 minutes of basketball as a reward for a student who achieved his behavior goal for the week,” he said. “It was so inspiring to see this student achieve what he set out to do. My take on school isn’t just about academics, it’s about creating great people.”

Yet, despite all the fulfillment his job brings him, Duffey said his proudest accomplishment is his loving family. But it’s interconnected, as they inspire him to be a great administrator.

“I’m proud to have such an amazing wife and wonderful kids,” he said. “They support me in my career and have helped me get to where I am now. Once as a new teacher, I was pink slipped due to budget cuts and at the end of the day, my family was still there and still believed in me. That’s the kind of unconditional support I aspire to create for the students and staff that I work with. Kids will become who you believe they will be, and I believe that each student has the potential to achieve greatness.”

Duffey has been very active in his local ACSA charter, frequently attending events. The networking has proven invaluable in his career growth. Also invaluable was attending ACSA’s Colloquium for Aspiring Administrators at UCLA, where he brought back lots of great ideas to his school.

“ACSA has been a great support to me in my administration career,” Duffey said. “It has connected me with fellow administrators, many of whom have become mentors. ACSA events are great for exchanging ideas, finding solutions, learning about effective programs, and provides opportunities to support one another.”

Interestingly, when asked for an inspirational school leader, Duffey named Principal Roberts.

“He is the type of leader who is the first to show up and the last to leave,” Duffey said. “His leadership is not limited to our campus. Chris has overcome leukemia, serves at his church, coaches constantly, supports a family of seven, all while direct-ing the staff and students at Gilmore. Chris leads by example. Ghandi said, ‘be the change you wish to see in the world.’ Chris really exemplifies that, especially on cam-pus. He is a compassionate mentor leader that taught me what it means to lead, care, and serve beyond limits!”

All ACSA Administrators of the Year will be honored at the President’s Gala and Awards Celebration during Leadership Summit in San Jose, Nov. 3. To register, go towww.acsa.org/leadershipsummit.

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