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AASA’s Incoming President Sees a Model at Home for Students as Producers of Their Own Learning

AASA president-elect Shari Camhi, superintendent in Baldwin, N.Y., delivered remarks at the 3rd General Session.

Public education must modernize, AASA President-Elect Shari Camhi said at the 3rd General Session of AASA’s national conference in Nashville on Saturday.

The basic approach to the curriculum and sequential structure of secondary education can be traced to a meeting in 1892, she said. But antiquated approaches cannot adequately prepare students to be successful in the world of the future, she said.

“It’s about our students’ needs,” the veteran superintendent said. “We use words like future-focused and inventing and creating. We all know about problem solving and communicating that must go with this.” Students need to understand how machine learning will change society and understand concepts like problem prediction, she said.

Her school district, the Baldwin Union Free School District on Long Island in New York state, offers an example of changing our approach. The high school has seven academies that put students in the roles of producers, pioneers and innovators, she said. Classroom discussions resemble a game of volleyball with all students involved rather than a game of ping pong in which individual students take turns interacting with the teacher.

An educator residency program exposes teachers to what is happening in business and industry.

“We have redesigned learning to mirror the work environment,” she said. The results? “In June 2021 my graduation rate was 98 percent!”

She said today’s superintendents could for the next committee to set a new direction for public education.

Camhi assumes the AASA presidency in July.

(Eric Randall is senior editor with AASA’s Conference Daily Online and an editor with the New York State School Boards Association in Latham, N.Y.)

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