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County Superintendent Honored with Outstanding Instructional Leader Award

County Superintendent Honored with Outstanding Instructional Leader Award
Three people pose with an award

During the April 10 San Diego County Board of Education meeting, San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold was honored by the California Association of Supervision of Curriculum and Development (ASCD). Sandra Clifton, ASCD board member, said "Dr. Gothold has long been a champion for equity and continually advocates for all kids."

Each year, California ASCD selects an Outstanding Instructional Leader (OIL) who has significantly impacted/influenced public education in California. Award winners are individuals who influence, advocate for, and support professional growth and instructional leadership to ensure success for each learner.

“Under his leadership the past six years, the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) has been identified as the state leader in equity, cybersecurity, and bilingual education,” California ASCD said in its announcement. Nominated by his peers, Gothold, “demonstrated vision, courage, leadership, and commitment to the improvement of education in California.”

With an impressive three decades of K-12 education experience, Dr. Gothold began his teaching career working with adjudicated youth. That passion and commitment continues today by supporting SDCOE’s own schools, which are focused on doing whatever it takes to improve outcomes for students experiencing homelessness, those involved in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, pregnant/parenting teens, and students from historically underserved populations.

Dr. Gothold previously served the Montebello Unified School District and the Los Angeles County Office of Education. He was appointed as San Diego County superintendent of schools in 2017, after serving as superintendent of the Lynwood Unified School District. During his tenure in Lynwood, graduation rates went from 58% to almost 90% with all historically underserved subgroups outperforming state averages in every academic marker. In addition, Lynwood was awarded the College Board AP District of the Year for simultaneously increasing Advanced Placement participation and test passage rates, an honor bestowed on three districts in the nation.

In his current role, Gothold leads SDCOE and provides guidance and resources for close to 500,000 students in 42 districts and 130 charter schools across San Diego County, as well as schools throughout the state, nationally, and internationally. SDCOE also serves as a geographical lead to provide guidance and training for regional county offices, and as stateside training and support in the areas of mental health, drug prevention/intervention, American Indian studies, and more.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gothold led support for unaccompanied minors through the Futuro Brillante program at the San Diego Convention Center, which served as a temporary shelter for youth in 2021. The ad hoc school ran classes twice a week for two hours a day and served more than 3,500 students for four months. The effort drew employees from across SDCOE departments to create a curriculum, teach, address technical needs, and provide translation support for unaccompanied migrant students.

“As a lifelong educator, I believe we’re in the business of people and for people. We're only as good as how we respond to the needs of our communities,” said Gothold. “I am humbled to receive this award from California ASCD. It is an honor and privilege to work in organizations and alongside educators who care so deeply about our kids who need us the most.”

While Gothold will retire from SDCOE in June 2024, he leaves the organization with an ambitious goal to reduce poverty through public education.

“Educational equity is a huge undertaking and it’s within our power to make the world a better place for our youth today and in the future,” Gothold said.


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