Thought Leaders

Thursday, February 14

9 – 10am
Building Sustainable Principal Pipelines

Dan Domenech (Moderator)
Executive Director, AASA
Alexandria, VA
Blake Hammond
Principal, Denver Public Schools
Denver, CO
Nicolas Pelzer
Program Officer, The Wallace Foundation
New York City, NY
Monica Goldson
Interim CEO, Prince Georges County Public Schools
Upper Marlboro, MD
Alvin Wilbanks
Superintendent, Gwinnett County Public Schools
Gwinnett, GA
Brenda Turnbull
Policy Studies Association
Washington, DC

Research shows that school leadership is second only to teaching among school-related factors in its impact on student learning. With this in mind, how can districts ensure that all schools benefit from effective leadership? In 2011, The Wallace Foundation launched the six-year, $85 million Principal Pipeline Initiative (PPI) to learn whether building pipelines of effective school principals can help districts retain leaders, improve school climate and influence student outcomes. Join representatives from PPI districts and researchers from Policy Studies Associates to discuss findings from a new report that looks at the sustainability of these pipelines, and learn more about how you can develop, train and build a principal workforce to sustain your district with high quality leaders.

9 – 10am
Redesigning High  Schools for the 21st Century

Robert Balfanz
Professor and Director, Everyone Graduates Center, School of Education, Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD

This thought leader presentation will examine how what has been learned about high school improvement over the past twenty years, along with recent findings from the learning and improvement sciences, can be used to design high schools which meet the 21st century goal of graduating all students prepared for post-secondary schooling and providing them with a pathway to adult success.

Robert Balfanz

10:15 – 11:15am
Special Film Screening and Conversation
“America to Me:” Examining Education, Equity and Race

Dr. Laruth Gray, Scholar in Residence and Senior Adviser to the Executive Director
The Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools
Steinhardt Graduate School of Education, New York University

Experience an episode of the of the groundbreaking series, ‘America to Me’ from Oscar®-nominee Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”). Join your peers and add your voice to the conversation about complex and crucial issues, including the effects of race and privilege on education as seen through the eyes of students, teachers, administrators, and families. The docuseries is an immersive look at a single year inside Oak Park River Forest High School, one of the more diverse and progressive high schools in the Chicagoland with benevolent teachers, every amenity imaginable, and one disquieting drawback: white students’ test scores are climbing while black students’ scores have stagnated. This session will provide an opportunity for attendees to share their stories, challenges, and successes in a moderated post-viewing discussion.

10:15 – 11:15am
Myths About Standardized Testing (Domestic and International) and Their Relationship to School and Teacher Assessment

David Berliner
Regents’ Professor Emeritus, Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ

In this session we will explore the inappropriate conclusions drawn from standardized testing frequently made by the press, public and members of our own profession.

David Berliner

12:45 – 1:45pm
Pushing Back on Eight Outmoded Beliefs

Kim Marshall
Consultant, Marshall Memo Editor, Marshall Memo
Brookline, MA

Important changes have occurred in educators’ and the lay public’s attitudes on a number of key issues in K-12 schools. Kim will explore positive shifts in these old beliefs:

  • Intelligence and talent are fixed at birth
  • Poverty is destiny
  • Principals are primarily managers
  • Great teachers are born, not made
  • Teacher evaluation is mostly a waste of time
  • Students’ feedback on teachers can’t be taken seriously
  • Tests are tests
  • Teachers can’t be held responsible for student learning

With each one, Kim will describe new thinking that provides brighter prospects for improving teaching and learning for all students. Participants will ponder whether colleagues, students, and other stakeholders still hold the old beliefs, share success stories on how beliefs have been changed, and elicit specific plans for making progress in one or two key areas “back home.”

Kim Marshall

12:45 – 1:45pm
Where Should We be Headed and How Do We Get There?

Luvelle Brown
Superintendent, Ithaca City School District
New York, NY
Linda Darling-Hammond
President and CEO, Learning Policy Institute
Gail Pletnick
AASA Immediate Past President, Gail Pletnick Associates
Glendale, AZ

During the 1990s, many states were focused on creating school systems that could equitably educate a more diverse group of learners for more challenging 21st-century skills. These efforts, however, were substantially derailed by No Child Left Behind’s focus on the low-level skills represented on high-stakes multiple-choice tests and the punitive strategies used to enforce accountability. Now, states and districts are renewing their efforts to create systems that support children’s social, emotional and academic development in ways that are culturally responsive and equitable, and enable higher-order thinking and performance. Examine the policies and practices needed to accomplish these goals.

Friday, February 15

12:45 – 1:45pm
Leadership through Systems Transformation

Julia Keleher
Secretary of Education, Puerto Rico Department of Education
San Juan, PR
  1. Establishing a vision for change.
  2. Confronting political, policy, and organizational challenges.
  3. Changing/winning hearts and minds.
Julia Keleher

12:45 – 1:45pm
Great Principals Have Great Leaders

Jacqueline O. Wilson (Moderator)
Assistant Professor of Delaware Academy for School Leadership, University of Delaware
Newark, DE
Max Silverman
University of Washington, Center for Educational Leadership
Seattle, WA
Dr. Christopher Williams
Assistant Superintendent, Ocean Springs School District
Ocean Springs, MS
Jill Baker
Deputy Superintendent of Schools, Long Beach Unified School District
Long Beach, CA
Kelly An
Director of Leadership Development, Long Beach Unified School District
Long Beach, CA

In many large school districts, principal supervisors face sprawling jobs, overseeing an average of two dozen schools and assuming numerous administrative, compliance and operational responsibilities. The result is that they often can’t provide their principals with the type of meaningful support that could boost principal effectiveness, especially in leading schools to higher-quality instruction. In 2014 The Wallace Foundation undertook research to see if there were opportunities to re-design the principal supervisor role. Last year, AASA and the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership created a National Principal Supervisor Academy to train principal supervisors. Join us for a discussion on findings from both initiatives and learn how to strengthen your principal workforce and improve their competencies as they become instructional leaders.

2:30 – 3:30pm
Superintendent/School Board Relations — A Discussion between NSBA Executive Director Tom Gentzel and AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech

Dan Domenech
Executive Director, AASA
Alexandria, VA
Tom Gentzel
Executive Director, NSBA
Alexandria, VA

Come hear an informative discussion between the AASA and NSBA executive directors who agree that an effective superintendent/school board management team is essential to a school system’s success and learn how the two organizations work together to accomplish common goals.

2:30 – 3:30pm
Define before Being Defined! Marketing a School Leadership Brand as a Storyteller-in Chief

Trish Rubin
Marketing Instructor and Marketing Brand Consultant, Baruch College, CUNY/Trish Rubin Ltd.
New York, NY

It’s a camera culture, social media-saturated world. How do you get control of your message? Take a page from that business course you never attended. Adapt what business has known for years: the best brands continually define themselves with a strong identity and brand narrative to capture the hearts and minds of their audience – which leads to loyalty! Understand how to apply tools of branding and neuroscience to improve school culture, performance and resources without a Madison Avenue marketing budget. Focus on three branding tenets: IMAGE, PROMISE and RESULT. See their impact on creating a personal leadership brand and informing district brand strategy. In an engaged, interactive session experience communication power tools to apply as the Storyteller-in-Chief of your defined, unique brand. Leave ready to create or refresh your leadership brand for a hyper-connected world.

Trish Rubin

3:45 – 4:45pm
How to Embrace High School Rankings and Not Hate Yourself in the Morning

Jay Mathews
Columnist, The Washington Post
Pasadena, CA

How to embrace high school rankings and NOT hate yourself in the morning. The story of the creative administrators who inspired me to start The Washington Post‘s America’s Most Challenging High Schools list and break the stranglehold of test scores on school assessments.
3:45 – 5:15pm
Crises, Adversity, Tragedy: Leading from the Inside Out

David Schonfeld (Moderator)
Professor, USC School of Social Work; and Director, National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement
Los Angeles, CA
Rosa Atkins
Superintendent, Charlottesville City Schools
Charlottesville, VA
Janet Robinson
Superintendent, Stratford Public Schools
Stratford, CT
Valeria Silva
Consultant to the Superintendent Certification Program
San Juan, PR

School districts and communities across the country are experiencing more incidences of violence, unforgiving natural disasters, and never before seen challenges and adversities. Superintendents must lead through these misfortunes — to bring together parents, students, staff, and the communities to grieve, confront hatred and intimidation, and rebuild. This session features first-hand stories from leaders who have been through the fire and come out on the other side. They will share with you how they faced the toughest tests imaginable and lessons learned on how to support both students and staff in the aftermath. Going beyond the emergency response plan, this session provides insight into the unexpected challenges faced and unexpected sources of strength they drew upon while managing their district crises and details how they coped with the personal and professional emotional toll so they could better care for their community. Don’t miss this intimate, evocative conversation.