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Executive Director Touts the Expansive Role of AASA’s Training Options

AASA’s executive director, in a state of the association speech Wednesday, painted a vivid picture of an organization at the crux of effectively preparing the next generation of public school leaders across the country.

In his 55-minute address to the AASA Governing Board in San Diego, Daniel Domenech referenced some of the association’s leading initiatives of the past year, pointing to pacesetting programs on youth apprenticeships, award-winning publications and the strong arm of legislative advocacy on Capitol Hill. And he pointed to the organization’s financial strength that emanated, in part, from significant partnerships with outside organizations and businesses.

But mostly Domenech detailed the rapidly escalating growth of the organization’s professional training programs aimed at those aspiring to become superintendents and certification programs for individuals already in the position.

Over the past five years, AASA has gone from running three regional cohorts of superintendents seeking certification to nearly three dozen distinct programs, including programs tailored to leading K-12 schools in personalized learning and social-emotional learning. Other programs serve women looking to move into top leadership posts in school systems and urban district leaders.

“AASA is the pre-eminent professional development organization for superintendents,” Domenech said in his remarks to about 115 members of the Governing Board.

He noted how the association has built strong partnerships with outside groups in developing and managing these training programs. They include the Wallace Foundation, Jason Learning, University of Southern California, Howard University and the American Association of Community Colleges, among others.

In addition, he pointed to the high value of using as faculty for the certification programs some of the leading figures in the superintendency, active and retired. “There’s 84 superintendents on our payroll,” he quipped.

A recent development is the interest among state associations that serve school district leaders seeking AASA’s help in starting state-level certification programs. Pennsylvania and Arizona are the first to do so, Domenech said, but another 10 state associations have inquired. The membership dues increase approved by the Governing Board would give AASA the funds to help in building those state programs that will rely on AASA’s curriculum.

(Jay P. Goldman is editor of AASA’s Conference Daily Online and School Administrator magazine.)

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