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Guiding Principle from Camhi to Superintendent Colleagues: Tell the Stories of Kids’ Successes

Shari Camhi, AASA president and superintendent in Baldwin, N.Y., addresses attendees at the 1st General Session Thursday.

Shari Camhi wants us all to know that we are more than just a number. In her remarks as AASA president during the AASA conference’s 1st General Session on Thursday, Camhi took advantage of a teachable moment to recall a 6th grader named Chris.

When he entered her 6th-grade class, he had missed 180 continuous days of school. “If we categorized him by the numbers, we could have made some assumptions that may have been wrong,” said Camhi, superintendent of Baldwin Union Free School District in Baldwin, N.Y.   

Working with Chris and watching him grow and succeed drove her to consider why he thrived. She concluded that it was because she treated him as a person, not a number. Camhi has remained in touch with her former student, and after displaying a current picture of him, she proudly stated he was a successful teacher in New York City.

Sharing stories of successful students is a practice Baldwin recommends. Moments like these have shaped her and her mission in life, which she sums up this way: Everything we do is for the kids. “It’s not about better, it’s about different,” she added.

As superintendent, she makes it a practice to collaborate for the benefit of the students in her district. In closing, she encouraged everyone to think beyond the numbers and to tell their stories of student success before other people do.

Click here to view a video snippet of her speech.

(Brad Domitrovich is a senior editor on Conference Daily Online and a communications consultant in Georgetown, Texas.)

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