Dr. David R. Schuler '91
2018 Recipient Distinguished Alumnus Award for Professional Achievement
Dr. David R. Schuler is the 2018 Superintendent of the Year for the state of Illinois and has been named a finalist for the National Superintendent of the Year by AASA, The School Superintendents Association. Dr. Schuler has been recognized as one of the top 20 administrators in the nation and was visited by then-United States Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan in 2013 for his commitment to education.
In the 2015-2016 school year, Dr. Schuler served as president of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, a national organization championing high quality public education with more than 13,000 educational leaders in the U.S and Canada.
Dr. Schuler became the youngest superintendent in the state of Wisconsin when he was hired in 2000 by the Marshall School District. Five years later, he moved on to become superintendent for District 214, the second largest high school district in Illinois, where achievement levels soared under his leadership amid changing demographics.
During Dr. Schuler’s tenure, the number of students taking Advanced Placement tests more than doubled in District 214. The District also has been recognized as a Blue Ribbon High School District by the U.S. Department of Education and serves approximately 300,000 residents.
Dr. Schuler grew up in Clintonville, Wis., graduating from Clintonville High School in 1988. After earning his bachelor's degree from Carroll University, he went on to complete his Master of Science degree and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He conducted research focused on leadership theory and the building of credible relationships between superintendents and their administrative teams.
He spent the first 13 years of his career in Wisconsin as a social studies teacher, coach, student activities and athletic director, principal and superintendent. In between his time as superintendent for the Marshall School District and District 214, he also served from 2002 to 2005 as superintendent of the Stevens Point Area Public Schools.
He was honored with the 2016 Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award, which acknowledges a practicing superintendent of schools or CEO of an education agency, for outstanding leadership in school public relations and communication. Schuler overhauled and championed a new creative team in his District to oversee media relations and public affairs and lead strategic communication initiatives to promote relevant K-12 education.
Dr. Schuler clearly saw the outcomes that could be generated by taking a more forward-thinking approach to communications that at its heart had a goal of supporting and advocating for student achievement. These have included:
- Writing, championing and passing legislation requiring every public Illinois college and university to accept Advanced Placement scores of 3 or higher, eliminating disparity and ensuring better access to early college credits for thousands of high school students.
- Launching the “Redefining Ready!” initiative in partnership with AASA in 2016, using District 214-created materials and a strategic communication plan focused on redefining college and career readiness nationwide.
- Launching an Education Foundation to support student success and innovation that fundraised in excess of $100,000 in its initial year through awareness-building events.
- Initiating an alumni survey to guide the future of alumni engagement, resulting in a 32-member Alumni Advisory Council which is creating initiatives that engage alumni and also enhance student learning.
- Launching the “Everyday Hero” campaign to recognize staff members who go the extra mile.
- Planning and executing “Engage,” a parent-focused learning summit to provide an enriched understanding of 21st century classroom technology.