Thursday, November 3, 2022

Merritt named school superintendent of year

Monica Merritt
Dr. Monica Merritt, superintendent of Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, was named as the Michigan 2023 Superintendent of the Year by the Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators (MASA) during a surprise agenda item at the board of education meeting last week.

The Michigan Superintendent of the Year award, presented annually by MASA and sponsored this year by Michigan Virtual, is presented to a superintendent who has shown tremendous effort and dedication to enriching the lives of students and the community as a whole, according to an association website. The winner is selected from a pool of nominees by a panel representing education stakeholders across the state.

“I have worked with Monica for many years, and I know what an incredible and dedicated leader she is,” said MASA Executive Director Dr. Tina Kerr. “In her time at Plymouth-Canton, Monica has shown her commitment to students, staff, and the community, and it's reflected in resume and her nomination for this award. We are very proud that Monica is representing Michigan as this year's Superintendent of the Year.”

In 2015, Merritt was named  superintendent of Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, the fifth largest district in the state with more than 16,300 students across 15 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, an alternative high school program, a virtual academy, and a post-secondary program. The district is continually recognized as one of the top districts in the state.

“Superintendent Merritt is a special, one-of-a-kind leader - she is devoted, hard-working, and gracious,” said Diane Robertson, Merritt's executive assistant and one of her nominators for the award. “Despite the pressure and never-ending responsibilities of her role, she still has a booming, infectious laugh that makes anyone within earshot smile.”

According to Robertson, Merritt's passion for inclusion, equity, and strength in action are traits which she learned from her father, Herman Boone - football coach at TC Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., whose story was portrayed in the Disney movie “Remember the Titans” - and that she carries on to the next generation.

Under Merritt's leadership, Plymouth-Canton Community Schools has been recognized with the NASRO Safe School Award, several National Blue Ribbon School awards, Michigan Schools to Watch, and U.S. News and World Report Best Schools Ranking List.

“Under her leadership, our staff has supported students as they endured not only the global pandemic, but also national, state, and local turmoil,” said Bethany Rayl, chief academic officer at Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, who also nominated Merritt. “Maintaining the focus on what is best for students at all times, Monica helped ensure that all PCCS students were supported and cared for during these tumultuous times while consistently maintaining a focus on educational excellence.”

Merritt is also an active community volunteer. She has been a member of numerous state and local organizations, including MASA, the Michigan Association of African American Superintendents, Metro Bureau Association, Wayne County School Superintendent Association, K-12 Alliance, Rotary Club of Plymouth, Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, Canton Chamber of Commerce, and the Educational Excellence Foundation Board of Directors.

Prior to her tenure as superintendent, Merritt was the assistant superintendent of human resources for Plymouth-Canton Community Schools. She also spent time as the executive director of human resources, a middle school principal, and high school assistant principal at Ypsilanti Community Schools.

Merritt earned her doctor of education degree in May 2022 from Michigan State University. She also holds master's and bachelor's degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University.

As the 2023 MASA Superintendent of the Year honoree, Merritt is now in the running for the national Superintendent of the Year award from the American Association of School Administrators (AASA). In addition, Merritt will be formally recognized at the MASA 2023 Midwinter Conference in January in Kalamazoo. A $1,000 student scholarship will also be donated by the award sponsor, Michigan Virtual, to the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools in her honor.