Brown Deer Falcon Takes Helm as AASA President

On behalf of the AASA, let me congratulate Deb Kerr, who was sworn in earlier this month in Washington, D.C. as the 2019-20 president of AASA, The School Superintendents Association. A bona fide champion for children, the superintendent of The School District of Brown Deer in Brown Deer, Wis., brings a special dedication and commitment to her new role.

The first female superintendent to serve in that role at Brown Deer Schools, her district lies in the suburbs of Milwaukee with more than 1,600 students. Three out of every four are students of color and nearly half are living in poverty.

Deborah L. Kerr, superintendent, School District of Brown Deer, Wis., being sworn in on July 9, as the 2019-20 president of AASA, The School Superintendents Association.

At a time when only about one out of every four superintendents are women, Deb exemplifies AASA’s longstanding tradition of honoring and recognizing outstanding female superintendents, district level administrators and principals whose talent, creativity and vision are impeccable.

I invite you to view our latest video, capturing Deb’s remarks during our installation ceremony, held in Washington, D.C. 

Tapping into the scores of talented women educators throughout our communities, let me also note that Deb’s successor—AASA’s president-elect—is Kristi Sandvik, superintendent of the Buckeye Elementary School District in Buckeye, Ariz., who was also sworn in during our Installation ceremony. We are fortunate to have someone of Kristi’s caliber to be part of the leadership of AASA.

Kristi Sandvik, superintendent, Buckeye Elementary School District, Ariz., was sworn in on July 9, as the 2019-20 president-elect of AASA, The School Superintendents Association.

AASA past president Gail Pletnick, a retired superintendent and one of the sharpest minds in public education, was sitting in the audience. The former head of Arizona’s Dysart Unified School District, Gail currently serves as co-chair of AASA’s Personalized Learning Cohort and is a major contributor in other AASA leadership programs, including the National Superintendent Certification Program® and the Digital Consortium. She is also the lead superintendent in our National Aspiring Principals Academy, a program we’re partnering with the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

Gail continues to serve school district leadership, urging district chiefs to not fall back on their efforts to redefine, redesign and reimagine public education.

Gail Pletnick moderating an exercise during the AASA/NAESP National Aspiring Principals Academy meeting in Alexandria, Va.

Let me also congratulate Missouri’s Chris Gaines for completing a successful term as the 2018-19 president. An ambassador for two of AASA’s leadership programs, Chris’ Mehlville School District served as host for one of our Digital Consortium meetings last year and will also serve as our Personalized Learning cohort meeting this fall. I could not be prouder of Chris’ ability to lead a staff and an entire learning community. No one can argue that public education in Missouri as well as the nation has a great friend in Chris Gaines.

I wish to thank all of the superintendents who joined us at our Legislative Advocacy Conference. Gathered just a couple of blocks from the nation’s capital, discussions during the three-day meeting included Medicaid, infrastructure, E-rate, annual appropriations, school nutrition, the Higher Education Act, forest counties and IDEA full funding. Keynote speakers included FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). Superintendents also spent a day on Capitol Hill visiting their respective members of Congress to discuss these important issues. We thank ASBO International for partnering with us.

July has historically marked a special time for AASA. Despite the oppressive heat that has baked many portions of the country, this month was no different. That said, I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer.

Dan Domenech is the executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association.