Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho could be named National Superintendent of the Year Thursday.
Carvalho caught a flight Wednesday evening to Nashville, where the School Superintendents Association is hosting the National Conference on Education and will announce the award reserved for the nation's top public schools chief.
Carvalho, who was recently named Florida Superintendent of the Year, said Wednesday during a monthly school board meeting that he was confident but also appreciative to simply be named a finalist out of some 15,000 schools chiefs.
His competition: Terry Grier of the Houston Independent School District; Kevin Maxwell of Prince George's County Public Schools in in Maryland; and Michele Taylor of Calhoun City Schools in Georgia.
"I guess I'm feeling good as the other three [finalists]. But look, I'm a realist. The work in Miami-Dade speaks for itself," he said. "Whatever happens tomorrow is the result of great teamwork, great board leadership, a supportive community and the best darn teachers in the country."
He said the nomination is a reflection of five years of accomplishments since he took over the nation's fourth largest district in 2008.
In that time, graduation rates have risen markedly and surpassed the state average, test scores have improved and the district has received recognition for boosting the performance of low-income and minority students. The latter played a large role in Miami-Dade's win of the 2012 Broad Prize for Urban Education, given to the country's highest performing urban school system.
The win preceded a successful campaign in November 2012 for a $1.2 billion bond referendum to renovate and rebuild aging schools and boost technology. Construction is expected to begin in the next few weeks.
Carvalho also serves as principal for two schools in downtown Miami.
So is he predicting victory?
"I never do that," he said. "But I'm confident of the work we've done."