Dr. Tony Thurman, superintendent of Cabot School District and former Southeast Arkansas educator, has been named Arkansas Superintendent of the Year. Thurman is a native of Monticello who taught at the Crossett School District and was principal at McGehee Elementary School before moving to Cabot.
Dr. Richard Abernathy, the executive director for the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators, surprised Thurman, presenting him with the award during a school board meeting in the Cabot School District on September 16.
Thurman is highly respected by employees, co-workers, and peers across the state.
“Dr. Thurman is an amazing leader,” said a Cabot School District employee. “He is not just a boss or a superintendent, he is a leader for teachers, administrators, students, parents, and even community members.”
Cabot’s deputy superintendent said Thurman is always willing to serve in a variety of state level positions and provide input and guidance to influence legislation, while a friend describes him as “a great visionary and strategist. [His] vision and superior strategy have turned our school system around and now we feel like we are the best school system in the state.”
Thurman was born in Monticello and graduated from Monticello High School in 1987. He received a Bachelor of Science and a Masters of Education from the University of Arkansas at Monticello, and then obtained his Doctor of Education in School Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2003.
Thurman has worked in the field of public education for the past 25 years, beginning in 1988 as a school bus driver and substitute teacher for the Monticello School District. He taught in Crossett Public Schools and then moved into school administration as the principal of McGehee Elementary School in McGehee.
Thurman moved to Cabot in 2000 and served as principal of Cabot Middle School South for three years and principal of Cabot High School for four years.
Thurman was named Superintendent of Cabot Public Schools in May of 2007, where he oversees a student population of over 10,300 students and approximately 1,450 employees.
He has also served as an adjunct professor for Arkansas State University since 2004, completed the Leadership Development Program based at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina, and participated in the Harvard Superintendents Academy in Boston, Massachusetts.
Dr. Thurman is the son of Betty Kight of Monticello and Keith Thurman of Lacey. He is married to Tara Thurman of DeWitt, and they have two children, Ryane and Rhett.
The American Association of School Administrators National Superintendent of the Year program, sponsored by ARAMARK Education, ING and AASA, pays tribute to the talent and vision of the men and women who lead the nation’s public schools. Candidates are judged on the following criteria: leadership for learning, communication, professionalism, and community involvement. Each State association of school administrators selects a State Superintendent of the Year. These superintendents are then in the running for National Superintendent of the Year and will be recognized and honored at the AASA National Conference on Education in February in San Diego, California.