Onslow County Schools Superintendent Rick Stout spends many of his days commending the county’s students for their achievements.

Last week, he handed out certificates to young authors at Parkwood Elementary and then closed out the week greeting students at the new STEM center at Jacksonville Commons Middle School.

Monday was a little different as Stout was the one being recognized as regional Superintendent of the Year for 2017 by the Southeast Region Superintendents’ Council.

For Stout, it is recognition of the outstanding work of the entire school district.

“I immediately recognized that this honor was less about me and more about the tremendous work of our staff. I was excited that our district was being recognized for providing students with so many opportunities,” Stout said of his selection.

Stout was honored for his dedication to making a difference in the lives of students and the community overall.

“Superintendent Stout has built strong relationships in the community and he has connected Onslow County Schools with many educational organizations across the country. We are proud that our superintendent was selected to represent the Southeast region,” Onslow County Board of Education Chairwoman Pam Thomas said via a school system news release.

Stout said the work of the school district is best done through partnerships within the community.

“My ultimate goal is to improve outcomes for our students,” Stout told The Daily News. “Much of this relies on the strong support and commitment of our Board of Education members to the 1:1 technology initiative, global partnerships and other innovative instructional approaches. This is more likely to happen if we continue to build strong partnerships with our local government, business community and families.”

The Southeast Region Superintendents’ Council is comprised of the superintendents of the 13 public school systems in the Southeast region of North Carolina. Stout was selected by his peers as regional Superintendent of the Year.

“It was an honor to be selected by my peers,” Stout said. “We have very capable superintendents in the SENC region and every one of them deserves the recognition. We work collaboratively and I owe much of our district’s success to the work we do together.”

As a regional winner, Stout will now be considered in the final selection of the North Carolina Superintendent of the Year, which will be announced in November.

The state recognition is part of the National Superintendent of the Year Award Program sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators to recognize outstanding leadership and to pay tribute to the talent and vision of those who lead our public schools.

Candidates for the award are judged on leadership, communication skills, professionalism, and community involvement.

As a regional winner, Stout sees an opportunity to further advocate on behalf of school district staff.

“Public school employees need a safe, supportive working environment and they need a fair wage. I am committed to continued advocacy for public education at the local, state and federal level. It is my hope that being selected as southeast region Superintendent of the Year will provide me with a larger audience to share these opportunities for improvement,” he added.

Stout has served as Onslow County Schools superintendent since January 2014. Prior to Onslow County, he served as superintendent of Scotland County Schools and as an assistant superintendent for Alamance Burlington Schools and Beaufort County Schools. He has also been a principal, teacher and coach for various North Carolina school districts.