HARRISBURG – Dr. Khalid Mumin, Superintendent of the Reading School District, has been selected as the 2021 Pennsylvania Superintendent of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA).
The goal of the prestigious awards program, which is part of the National Superintendent of the Year program, is to further inspire exemplary educational leadership and promote a sense of confidence and pride in the nation’s public schools. Superintendent of the Year nominees are evaluated on how each candidate demonstrates leadership for learning, communication skills, professionalism and community involvement.
In 2014, when Dr. Mumin began his tenure as superintendent, he was confronted with 19 buildings of failing infrastructures, eight bargaining units without contracts for five years, and a district having little to no transparency with either staff or constituents. One of the largest urban districts in Pennsylvania, Reading also was one of the poorest with a highly transient student population and a district facing a financial crisis – along with a looming state takeover.
Dr. Mumin demonstrated visionary leadership right from the start to get the district back on a positive track and focused on academic growth and support. He put together a team of professionals that focused on consistency by creating and implementing a plan for the 13 elementary schools in the district to have the same lesson plans across the board. For high school students, he led the creation and implementation of the Reading Virtual Academy (RVA) and Reading Red Knight Accelerated Academies (RKAA), blended learning programs designed to reengage dropouts and non-traditional students in the public education system, thus leading to graduation. In fact, the RVA is being utilized as a model for other districts in Berks County to compete with the costs and educational programming of cyber charter schools at an approximate cost of $8,500 per pupil, compared to the cyber charter cost of $14,000 per student, with RVA students also having guaranteed access to certified teachers and extracurricular activities. To further support students, he brought more social workers and school counselors into all of the district’s schools.
In addition, Dr. Mumin led the creation of the Reading School District Welcome Center to engage and empower the families of an increasing population of English Language Learners through orientations for new families, parent engagement activities, adult education programs, and a wide variety of social services provided by the district’s community partners.
With the COVID pandemic, Dr. Mumin and his team focused on addressing the technology and internet connectivity gaps within the districts, making Reading a “one student one technology” device district for all students in grades K-12. In addition, he led the effort to ensure that most of the district’s schools have extended open wireless connections for students to access the internet while maintaining social distancing, and developed a district partnership with Comcast to provide internet service in the homes of up to 10,000 students for the 2020-21 school year at no cost to parents.
As a result of all these initiatives, attendance has consistently trended upward, test scores are increasing, the achievement gap is closing, the high school has won the Distinguished Title I School for Achievement award two consecutive years and received the Silver Award for Best High Schools from US News, and the district’s schools continue to show growth in academic effectiveness every year.
In addition, Dr. Mumin has focused on the issue of equity as key to student success, serving on panels and giving presentations focused on issues such as immigration, racism and equal opportunity for all students. With a continuing commitment to inclusion and diversity, he has served as both a role model and spokesperson on the challenges of unconscious bias, the need to understand and address those challenges, and the importance of accepting others. He and the Reading School Board created a Welcoming Schools Resolution to ensure all students and families may seek help, information, assistance and safety from discrimination and harassment. With his input, the board also approved an Anti-Racism and Equity Policy based on the principles of fairness and justice in allocating resources and treatment and creating opportunities for success for each student according to his/her unique needs.
To raise student achievement, support students and staff, and promote a culture of excellence, Dr. Mumin places a high emphasis on transparency, communication, teambuilding, community engagement, partnerships and visibility throughout the district and the wider community. When developing a plan for classroom re-configuration, he hosted a series of town meetings to help the community better understand that “what” and “why” of those changes and to address the concerns of faculty and parents. During the ongoing COVID pandemic, he provided staff, families and the school board continual updates with relevant information pertaining to the ever-changing environment. He strengthened the district’s social media presence through Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and the Class DoJo implementation to further inform students, parents and the community. That work has led to numerous awards for the district from the Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association. In addition, Dr. Mumin and his team strengthened the district’s website and utilizes videos to further provide information to the entire community. In fact, the 2020 open day video, “Kid Superintendent Video,” became a national sensation.
Dr. Mumin maintains high visibility both within the school community and the community-at-large, participating on local boards (Habitat for Humanity, the Greater Reading Economic Partnership, United Way, Berks Arts Council, YMCA and the Berks Community Action Program), developing partnerships within the community to enhance investment in the students and the district itself, providing educational insights through frequent participation on local podcasts, including Dear Reading, and speaking at community events such as the Virtual Juneteenth Celebration 2020 for Reading. Through these and other civic opportunities, he clearly demonstrates his understanding of what children need from an academic perspective while also addressing the social issues affecting the entire community.
Professionally, Dr. Mumin places a high value on giving voice to students in urban schools through active membership with PASA, AASA® The School Superintendents’ Association, the National School Board Association and Council of Urban Educators, the PASA Urban Caucus, the Mid Atlantic Equity Consortium and the National Alliance of Black School Educators, among numerous other professional organizations. He has served as a panelist and presenter for PASA, AASA, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Discovery Education, among others, and has published numerous articles and op-eds on the importance of student voice.
Most recently, he has published the book Problem Child: Leading Students Living in Poverty Towards Infinite Possibilities of Success (WGW Publishing, June 2020), in which he examines the historical constructs of youth growing up in poverty, emphasizes the ways in which influential mentorship has become one of major pillars of success, and provides a three-pronged approach at addressing teaching and leadership for students who grow up in underserved communities. It is a philosophy inspired by his own life story and demonstrated through visionary excellence in the Reading School District.
After Dr. Mumin’s work to get the district on a more positive financial track, finalize collective bargaining contracts that brought more stability to the district, develop a more positive and transparent vision for the district, create a positive district environment and lead staff and students to academic success, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale described the district’s turnaround under Dr. Mumin’s leadership as “nothing short of a miracle,” and the ongoing upward trajectory of the district as a testimony to his vision.
The Reading School Board describes Dr. Mumin as someone who is “cool under pressure, adapts to changes, is trustworthy, respectful, weighs his words carefully, is a great listener, and is a role model for educators, parents, students and the community at large.” According to the board, “he is a visionary, committed and dedicated to making the Reading School District the best it can be.”
Dr. Mumin will be formally recognized next month during a virtual meeting of the PASA Board of Governors and will be feted at an event in his honor in 2021. As the Pennsylvania honoree, he and 49 other state honorees will be recognized in February during the virtual AASA National Conference on Education.
The Pennsylvania Superintendent of the Year is selected by a PASA (Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators) panel of school administrators. The National Superintendent of the Year Program was instituted 34 years ago by AASA® The School Superintendents Association to recognize the outstanding leadership of active, front-line superintendents. Each candidate for the National Superintendent of the Year® Award must first be named by their state association as the State Superintendent of the Year. First Student, AIG Retirement Services and AASA are co-sponsors of the national award program.
* * * *
The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators is a professional community of education leaders committed to achieving quality public education for all learners. PASA’s members include superintendents, assistant superintendents and other school district and intermediate unit administrators. For more information about PASA, see the association web site at www.pasa-net.org.
AASA® The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA members range from chief executive officers, superintendents and senior level school administrators to cabinet members, professors and aspiring school system leaders. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. See the AASA web site for more information at www.aasa.org.