Magnolia Superintendent of Schools John “Skipper” Ward has been named the 2022 Arkansas Superintendent of the Year.

Dr. Mike Hernandez, executive director of the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators, along with former superintendents of the year, presented Ward with the award during their surprise appearance at Monday night’s meeting of the Magnolia School Board.

“You know that you have a wonderful asset here in this community,” Hernandez said. “Above and beyond, Mr. Ward exemplified what we want representing our state as one of our top superintendents in Arkansas. It’s our hope that he will go on to the national level this coming spring.”

“I can’t tell you what this means to me,” Ward said. “It’s not anything I have done. I can’t even put into words what this means to me. I appreciate it.”

Hernandez also said, “Ward has been recognized as a servant leader by this community involvement and participation in many organizations. He sits on many local and state-wide boards intending to provide more experiences for his students. As a veteran educator he had dedicated his life’s work to students, serving as an elementary science and reading teacher, a bus driver, a principal and for the past 15 years, a superintendent.”

Ward became superintendent on July 1, 2014, succeeding Dr. John Moore.

According to a press release issued by the AAEA, “John Ward’s educational philosophy has always been rooted in the idea that education is about more than what happens inside the four walls of a classroom. In each role Mr. Ward has held, he’s made providing experiences for students one of his main priorities. Mr. Ward believes that education is about more than preparing students for a test, educators must prepare students for life.”

Candidates for this honor are judged on leadership for learning, communications, professionalism, and community involvement.

Ward came to Magnolia form his position as superintendent of the Horatio School District.

He is a graduate of Texas A&M-Texarkana with a master’s degree from Henderson State University, post-graduate certification in educational leadership from Southern Arkansas University.

Ward began his teaching career in the Winthrop School District. He taught sixth-grade science before becoming a principal for Winthrop, which was later annexed by Horatio. He was also a principal with the Horatio School District before becoming Horatio superintendent seven years before his move to Magnolia.

Hard was superintendent when Horatio district voters approved a 12-mill property tax increase to construct a new high school for students in grades seven through 12.

Ward and his wife, Misty, have three sons and a daughter.

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