APU’s Superintendents-in-Residence Enrich Next Generation of Education Leaders

by Rachel White

Azusa Pacific University’s School of Education has launched a Superintendent-in-Residence program as evidence of its commitment to train effective educators ready to lead amidst the changing environment of the nation’s K–12 schools. APU welcomed two accomplished superintendents from local school districts this fall. Terry Nichols, Ed.D., superintendent of the Duarte Unified School District (DUSD) will serve in the Master of Arts in Educational Leadership program. Nichols’ career in education spans more than three decades and includes roles as superintendent of schools for the Claremont Unified School District; assistant superintendent of educational services and director of curriculum and instruction, both for DUSD; principal of Duarte High School and Northview Intermediate School in Duarte; and principal of Lincoln Middle School and assistant principal of Lincoln Elementary School, both in Arkansas. Nichols also taught in K–12 and for the APU School of Education’s doctoral studies program. He holds a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Central Arkansas, a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Arkansas, and a doctorate in K–12 organizational leadership from the University of Southern California.

Gregory Plutko, Ed.D., superintendent of schools for the Huntington Beach Union High School District, will serve in the new doctoral program in educational leadership launching in January 2015. With more than 25 years as an educator, Plutko’s experience includes positions as deputy superintendent of educational services and assistant superintendent of executive services for Corona Norco Unified School District; assistant superintendent of educational services and administrative director of staff development and technology for Walnut Valley Unified School District; and principal and assistant principal at Glendora High School and Goddard Middle School in Glendora. Plutko earned a bachelor’s degree in history, a teaching credential, and a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration, all from APU, and a doctorate in organizational leadership from the University of La Verne.

"By introducing superintendents-in-residence, the School of Education provides our students and educational leadership programs with senior-level practitioners who are actively engaged in the fast-paced changes of the K–12 systems,” said Anita Fitzgerald Henck, Ph.D., dean and professor in the School of Education. “They will partner with faculty to provide the best current practices and enhance traditional graduate and doctoral course content. Drs. Nichols’ and Plutko’s expertise will benefit out master’s degree and doctoral students in educational leadership.”

Nichols and Plutko will teach, serve as resources on dissertation committees and as mentors for student cohorts, and represent the School of Education at community and professional development events. The two join Kent Bechler, Ph.D., named 2012 California Superintendent-of-the-Year, who serves as associate dean for external partnerships and coordinates the Superintendents’ Collaborative, which brings together approximately 25 superintendents, four times a year, for professional engagement with university and School of Education leadership.