As the lead learner in the Gorham School Department in Maine, it is important for me to continue to learn and grow as an educational leader. Goodness knows I can always learn something new, and improve in areas that I need to work on as a leader. This isn't a sign of challenge as a leader – its a sign of strength to continually be open to new ideas and new ways of thinking.
Next week I will be heading to San Antonio, Texas to attend the National Conference on Education. This conference is sponsored by AASA, the School Superintendent's Association. It is three days worth of the most intense professional learning possible for practicing Superintendents from across the country!
This conference brings in national speakers and experts on the most cutting-edge educational approaches and keeps us informed of funding and policy issues at the national level. This information, in turn allows us to navigate our schools more effectively back in our home states.
We can learn with large numbers of our peers in settings with keynote speakers such as Alex Boyle, a performer and mental health advocate. Or we can learn in smaller settings with break out groups facilitated by Superintendents sharing their skills and expertise with their peers and everything in between! Last year almost 3,000 educational leaders attended the Conference in Nashville and this year looks to be shaping up to equal that historic year!
This year's conference theme is “Live Well, Lead Well”. The theme is just what it says – finding ways to encourage superintendents to take care of ourselves so that we are able to take care of others. The conference offers a Health and Wellness center and many different session break-outs to learn more about this important topic for us all. It even offers a 5K run if you are interested in going that far – of course I may accidentally forget to pack my sneakers…we'll see! Cheering others on from the sidelines is also encouraged!
Additionally, AASA annually gives out some pretty high profile awards! Superintendent's of the Year from all 50 states are honored and one lucky Superintendent is selected as the National Superintendent of the Year! I'd like to take a moment to congratulate Maine's Superintendent of the Year – Jeremy Ray. Jeremy is Superintendent of Schools in Biddeford, Dayton and Saco ME. I'd also like to wish our four finalists for Superintendent of the Year the best of luck! I was lucky enough to sit in on their press conferences just a few weeks ago. Impressive leaders – all of them! I am glad I didn't have to choose!
Governing Board Work
In addition to all this incredible learning, this is also the time during which our Governing Board members get together annually to review our legislative agenda and set priorities for AASA. These priorities help to ensure our organization remains focused on its overall beliefs and values as we advocate for the needs of children across this great country.
Excitement & Packing!
This will be just my second year in attendance at the National Conference and if it is anything like last year, I know that I will come back energized and full of new incredible ideas about how we can continue to improve our public schools to better serve our students and families. The ability to talk with peers and learn with peers from school districts of 100,000+ students to districts with just 200 students is something only a conference of this caliber can provide. It is also a great time to “brag” a bit about some of the awesome things happening in our public schools of which there are MANY!
Now, as I prepare for the trip, I just have to figure out – whatever will I wear? I mean seriously, I may have to dust off some of my Maine summer clothes with temperatures scheduled to be in the 50's and 60's! That's swimming weather in Maine! Brrrrr! I can't wait! Looking forward to seeing everyone there!