Fallbrook Union Elementary School District Superintendent Candace Singh has won ACSA’s 2022 Exemplary Woman in Education award.
Singh selected for ACSA’s Exemplary Woman award
September 19, 2022
Candace Singh says she’s fortunate that from an early age, she had a strong female leader to look up to: her mother.
Knowing that not everyone has leadership modeled for them, Singh has built a reputation for helping others recognize their potential through her roles as a district leader, a mentor and a professor.
Singh has been selected as ACSA’s 2022 Exemplary Woman in Education. She will be recognized at ACSA’s Women in School Leadership Forum, Sept. 21-23.
As superintendent of Fallbrook Union Elementary School District since 2011, Singh has made professional development a district priority. Her investments in human capital have included full-time TOSAs at each school to provide job-embedded teacher coaching, an award-winning leadership development program for assistant principals, and a professional development program for staff based on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
By setting clear and specific annual goals, her district has demonstrated growth in student achievement and outperformed the state average in ELA and math every year since 2012.
Singh, who earned her doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership at the University of La Verne, also developed school leaders as an adjunct professor for education leadership at California State University San Marcos from 2000-2020. While there, she designed the Instructional Leadership course to include diversity, equity and inclusion, imparting new school leaders with her expertise on this subject.
In 2018 she became the founder and advisor for the California Women Educational Leaders Network, which provides professional development, support and mentoring to over 500 female leaders throughout California. Building on that success, she created the first Aspiring Superintendents Academy for Female Leaders for the American Association of School Administrators.
“Dr. Singh’s commitment to her community and her profession is evident in her actions. She gives her time and attention to the things she values: equity, leadership, and mentoring,” said author and education consultant Delores Lindsey in her nomination of Singh. “Clearly, Dr. Singh lives the life of a leader.”
What did it mean to you to get to grow so many future school leaders over the years as a professor of education? Working with aspiring administrators and preparing them for the rigorous job of school leadership has been among the most fulfilling work I have done as an educational leader. It brings me great joy to see so many of the graduate students I have worked with go on to highly successful careers as school and district leaders. School leadership is tough work, but deeply rewarding. It’s critical that we continue to inspire educators to pursue school administration as a viable and exciting career choice. Our schools need strong and effective leaders now more than ever.
What is your “why” — why are you a school administrator? Serving as a school and district leader is a privilege. My “why” has always been centered on making a difference in the lives of others. Throughout my career as a school administrator, I have found deep fulfillment in creating the conditions in which students and adults can succeed. As I moved to higher levels of district leadership, my focus has always been on creating schools and classrooms that inspire greatness in children and in the adults who work with them. Staying closely connected to the “why” of my work has anchored me during the storms of the last two and half years. And, now in my 12th year as a superintendent, I love the job more than ever!
What do you enjoy about developing other women educational leaders? I was fortunate from a very early age to have strong female role models in my life, the most important being my mom. Her model of grace, strength, and optimism even in the most difficult of circumstances created the foundation for my leadership career. But, not all girls have strong models of female leadership, and many girls and young women struggle with the confidence to see themselves as leaders. This is why I am so focused on and committed to developing the confidence and leadership skills of my students. I want girls to see themselves as leaders from an early age, and I want boys to see girls as leaders, too!
Supporting women on their leadership journey is equally important to me. Many women lack the confidence to pursue higher levels of leadership, as well as the professional connections that contribute to rising higher. Creating networks of female leaders and teaching leadership as tangible skills to be learned are essential if we want to continue to narrow the gender gap in school leadership, particularly at the superintendent level.
What have been some of your proudest moments as a district superintendent during these unprecedented times? I am incredibly proud to be a part of a team in FUESD that works together with an unwavering commitment to the success of one another. Every person on our team, from our teachers and principals to our custodians and bus drivers, and every job in between, cares as much about the success of others as they do about themselves. Our district’s remarkable success during the very challenging time of the pandemic was a result of our culture of care, connection, and commitment to each other, as well as to our students and our community.
I am also incredibly proud of the work I have done with my governing board members. I have had the opportunity to work alongside 12 different governing board members during my tenure as a superintendent! While each of those experiences was different, there has always been one thing in common: our commitment to lead together as a governance team with our students at the center of our decisions. Governance team work is becoming increasingly difficult during such politically divisive and polarized times. I am proud to have worked successfully with each of my board members to create great schools for kids.
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