He was speechless.
At a recent meeting, the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents named him the Southeast Tennessee Superintendent of the Year.
It is still a little hard to believe, he admitted.
Ringstaff explained the nomination means more because it was made by his fellow superintendents. Individuals who know what it takes to meet the demands of the job.
According to a press release sent out by Cleveland City Schools, Ringstaff was selected based on his leadership for learning, communication, professionalism and community involvement.
Seven other superintendents have been chosen to represent their region across the state. One will be chosen to represent Tennessee on the national level.
“I didn’t expect this,” Ringstaff said. “I don’t expect anything there. You are talking about some really good people in this state doing this job. I’m sure there are a lot of great, deserving superintendents from the state of Tennessee [in the top eight].”
He recently completed his third year as director of the city school system. It is Ringstaff’s first post as a superintendent. He previously worked as a teacher and principal in the education field.
The school system quickly pointed to his other honors. They include being chosen as one of 28 superintendents from across the nation to be a part of the inaugural class of the AASA National Superintendent Certification Program.
“During his three years as Director of City Schools, Dr. Ringstaff has guided the school system in the implementation of the Common Core State Standards,” reads school system press release. “He was recently reappointed for a second term on the Common Core Leadership Council for the Tennessee Department of Education.”
Ringstaff looks to his time as a principal as a compass for his position as the city system’s superintendent.
He explained support from the superintendent meant a lot as a principal. The superintendent’s vote of confidence made Ringstaff’s job simpler and gave him more confidence. He determined if he was ever lucky enough to fill the position, he would be sure to support teachers, students and administrators in their endeavors.
According to Ringstaff, as director of Cleveland City Schools, it is his job to support principals to make the best decisions and provide them with the best tools available for students and teachers.
“I think we have a great group of principals,” he said before turning his focus to another group of individuals. “Again, at my job, having a very supportive school board makes my job the best. I have a school board that is behind me. They believe in me and I believe in them. Through all of that, the school board and myself, the principals and the teachers, we all stay student focused.”
He said every decision made is about the students.
“We only get one shot at these kids. It’s a 13-year shot, however we have to make it the most,” Ringstaff said. “We get them at kindergarten and we put them out at 12th grade. During that 13-year experience, we have a lot we have to do with them. We have to get it right every single day.”
He pointed to the success of the system’s administrators, teachers, students and parents for the honor of being named Southeast Tennessee Superintendent of the Year.
“There is no place I would rather be, and there are many other areas out there that look for superintendents,” Ringstaff said. “Why would I ever think there is somewhere better than Cleveland City [Schools]? Because, I don’t think there is.”