This year’s AASA International Seminar took our group of superintendents to Ecuador. This was not our first journey to South America and we found education in Ecuador to be very similar to what we have seen in Costa Rica, Panama, Peru and Chile.
AASA President Chris Gaines and Executive Director Dan Domenech with children from the Milenio School in Guano, Ecuador.
Like their neighbors, Ecuador’s public schools serve primarily the poor while the middle class and up tend to send their children to private schools. We visited two such schools, the American International School in Quito and the Vigotsky School in Riobamba.
The International school is truly a model of outstanding education. Catering to the children of American diplomats and those that can afford the $18,000 per-year tuition, the school offers programs to infants through high school. We were very impressed by the college-like campus and the quality of the teachers and administrators.
Today, we began our school visits at the Unidad Educativa del Milenio GUANO, a Pre-K to high school, housed in a four-and-a-half year-old government-built facility. The school has an enrollment of 630 students who previously attended seven different smaller schools now consolidated into one new building.
The children attend school from September 4 through July 10 and live in the area of Guano. Some children are bused to school.
As superintendents from across the U.S., we appreciate the opportunity to see the value placed on education in other countries. Clearly, other countries often aspire to provide a mandatory education for all, as we do.
I ventured to visit schools on a hot sunny morning on the island. Not knowing if I would be given entrance to the schools, I decided to take the risk and was joined by David Woolly, the superintendent of the Alma School District in Alma, Ark.
Given the lure around Charles Darwin on the Galápagos Islands, I was immediately attracted to visiting the Carlos Darwin School. Upon arrival, a native from Ecuador greeted us.
The AASA International Seminar is always a meaningful experience for superintendents. During this year’s trip, we are learning about the culture and history of Ecuador, which includes the opportunity to visit schools. The value added is traveling with fellow superintendents from across our country, making connections and learning from each other.
Superintendents on the AASA International Seminar listen to a presentation at the American International School in Quito, Ecuador.
Our first school visit was to Academia Cotopaxi, an American International School, educating children from 12-months-old to high school. This school has a beautiful campus and is located in Ecuador’s capital city of Quito. The Academia is a private, English-based international school. The parents of many of the children who attend are stationed in Quito either through the embassy or are U.S. government officials. The children come from 38 different countries with a total enrollment of 850. Fifty-eight percent of the students are international, 42 percent are from Ecuador and 22 percent are from North America. The tuition is $18,000 per student.
he Message of an Unforgettable Day By Daniel A. Domenech/School Administrator, September 2018
THE FAIRFAX COUNTY Public Schools’ leadership team always met on Tuesday mornings. On Sept. 11, 2001, my administrative assistant walked into the meeting room to place a note in front of me. It read: “The North Tower of the World Trade Center has been hit by an airplane.” She did so because she knew that, as a New Yorker, I would be interested.
Initially, I assumed the pilot of a small plane, blinded by sunlight, had crashed into the building. Half an hour later she came back to inform me another airplane had crashed into the South Tower. Recognizing this as an improbable coincidence, I dismissed the meeting and requested everyone return to their posts. I had barely reached my office when the report came in that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon.
As long as I’ve been working in public education, this time of year has always been very special. On behalf of the entire AASA family, we hope our superintendents and those aspiring to become superintendents have a fantastic school year filled with the creation of positive solutions that will translate into greater academic outcomes for our students.
I’ve been saying for years that superintendents are the nation’s foremost thought leaders in public education. Last week, our school system leaders spoke out about some very critical issues that directly affect the lives of our students. We need to listen to what was said and do something about it.
Our high schools are brimming with innovators. There are scores of students from coast to coast driven by ideas and dreams of a better tomorrow.
I recently read an article in a newspaper focused on a discussion between a community college president and a U.S. Senator about how poorly we’re preparing kids for college. The piece contained no authentic examination of data to prove their argument.
Students attending Virginia Beach (Va.) City Public Schools
As schools across the country open their doors for the new academic year, we as educators need to think about what I believe should be our No. 1 goal—changing the trajectory of our students’ journeys and the lives of their families in order for our communities to dream differently.
By Aaron Spence, Virginia Beach City Public Schools, and Ken Kay, EdLeader21
Aaron Spence [left] and Ken Kay [right].
Some of the most exciting and impactful work happening in school systems across the country is around the development of a Portrait of a Graduate, a collective vision articulating a community’s aspirations for all students. We have observed a growing energy and interest in the Portrait of a Graduate among superintendents and other district leaders nationwide. In fact, the cover story of the August 2018 issue of American School Board Journal featured the stories of school systems that are implementing a Portrait of a Graduate.
As more school systems explore the development of a Portrait of a Graduate, we wanted to share 5 lessons we have learned in working with leaders of districts aspiring to prepare their students for 21st century challenges.
When students have a plan, they are more likely to execute on it and align their postsecondary path with their life goals. And when students are engaged in school, they are more likely to persist, get better grades and stay out of trouble. An increased focus on college, career and life readiness for K-12 schools has created an urgency for districts to implement, track and report outcomes related to college and career readiness.
Because of this, we are seeing an emergence of tools designed to help districts with their CCLR initiatives. These products come at various price points and assist with a variety of readiness needs. When evaluating a CCLR solution, it is important to know what you are getting, what you are measuring, and how your student data will be used.
July is always a special time for AASA. Hundreds of superintendents across the country—some of the sharpest minds in public education—gathered in the nation’s capital last week to discuss some of the most critical issues in public education as part of our annual Legislative Advocacy Conference.
The meeting marked three days of invaluable conversation focusing on such hot-button issues as school safety, appropriations, career and technical education, the Higher Education Act, teacher shortages, IDEA and Medicaid. AASA members—individuals I often refer to as “champions for children”—made their voices heard by visiting members of Congress from their respective districts and states to share opinions on these important matters.