Superintendent of Schools
School District of University City
“I have the best students on the planet,” says Sharonica Hardin-Bartley, superintendent of schools at the School District of University City, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri.
Hardin-Bartley’s 2,600-student district has a rich tradition of excellence despite facing the challenges of many urban districts. Her leadership of the district is rooted in three pillars: humanize, personalize and problematize (focus on critical thinking).
“I want students to understand that education is a path to something else,” she says. “That means we are constantly in a state of problem-solving and making connections to what’s next. We also embrace social justice and racial equity to make sure students understand it’s their role to make things better.”
Hardin-Bartley credits a school administrator from her own childhood with sparking her love for teaching. As she enters her seventh year as superintendent — a long tenure for the leader of an urban district — she sees the fellowship as an opportunity to strengthen how districts partner with families and track progress.
“Education is the civil rights issue of our time,” she said. “I want to sharpen my tools to impact educational systems across the country.”