Nashville: A Community of Leaders

AASA’s National Conference on Education officially kicks off this week and I am pleased to report that the 2018 edition will be our largest convening in more than 10 years. This tells me that more and more superintendents and other public school administrators across the country are eager to learn from one another, trade strategies, and discuss what is working on behalf of the more than 50 million students who are attending our public schools.

Though the official launch of the conference is not until Thursday, meetings have been well underway at the Music City Center, our conference site. No longer is our conference a three-day event. We have created a cadre of professional development programs, specifically tailored to school system leaders who wish to grow their careers, foster leadership strengths and develop their skills.

Workshops began as early as Monday for participants of AASA’s National Superintendent Certification Program®. To recognize their accomplishment, members of our East Coast Cohort will be brought on stage later this week and be recognized for successfully completing the rigorous process.

Dr. Vincent Matthews, superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District, serves as  one of our Certification instructional leaders who joined us in Nashville to facilitate our West cohort programs. “In order for large and small public school districts to move forward, we have to make sure that we have high quality and effective leadership at the top of these systems,” he said. “This is a program that gives superintendents the skills they need to implement a plan to move a district forward.”

Other pre-conference meetings this week involving our leadership programs will include our Urban Superintendents Academies, National Principal Supervisor Academy, Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium, STEM Leadership Consortium, Early Learning Cohort, Aspiring Superintendents Academy®, AASA Leadership Academy and our Redefining Ready! Initiative.

As you can see, it’s quite a line-up and all of these meetings are taking place even before our first general session gets underway Thursday afternoon.

Professional development of this breath and quality did not exist when I was a superintendent. These are truly innovative programs we are really excited about. The feedback we receive from participants continues to be very positive. If you are with us in Nashville, please do not hesitate to ask me about these professional development initiatives.

Whether or not you’re attending the 2018 National Conference on Education, I encourage you to access AASA’s Conference Daily Online, our daily online e-newsletter, which will contain wall-to-wall coverage of news and photo highlights throughout the week.

Enjoy the 2018 National Conference on Education!

Brightest Minds in Education Convene in Phoenix

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This week, America’s foremost thought leaders in public education are in Phoenix, celebrating the vast contributions being made in our school districts.  

Hundreds of superintendents are attending the National Conference on Education, hosted by AASA, The School Superintendents Association, the premier organization serving thousands of school district leaders nationwide. This annual gathering is routinely regarded as the most comprehensive professional development and networking event for superintendents, cabinet-level officials and other school administrators.

Our conference comes at a unique time. Just before the New Year, Congress passed—and the President signed into law—the Every Student Succeeds Act. The legislation takes the pendulum of federal overreach and control and returns it back to state and local education agencies. The law preserves important federal policy cornerstones such as equity, accountability, standards and assessments, but does so in a way that empowers state and local education leaders to more effectively operate the systems for which they are responsible.

ESSA is certain to be a prime topic of conversation at our meeting. Other critical issues that are sure to be covered include Common Core, superintendent/board relationships, personalizing learning, instructional leadership, innovative technology, healthy school environments, and poverty and equity.  

In addition, one superstar superintendent will be named AASA’s 2016 National Superintendent of the Year. This award points to the outstanding contributions and leadership provided by superintendents, who, arguably, have the toughest job in America.  

Running a school district is hard work. I was a superintendent for nearly 30 years on Long Island and Northern Virginia, and as I travel across the country, I see firsthand that the roles, responsibilities and political pressures placed on today’s superintendents are greater than they’ve ever been.

That’s why our conference is so important—not only for the superintendency, but also the 50 million students who are depending on us, as educators, to effectively prepare them for college and careers beyond high school. Greater Phoenix will be the place where the CEOs of our school districts will be sharing best practices and ideas about improving student outcomes and district management.

We are here to applaud school district leaders, the true champions for children. Their contributions to public education are immeasurable. Their efforts are setting a positive educational framework for generations to come.

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