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Schuler, Incoming AASA Executive, Gives the Membership a Peek at His Organizational Ideas at 3rd General Session

dave schuler on stage
Incoming Executive Director David Schuler addresses the crowd at the last General Session of the 2023 National Conference on Education. Photo by Jimmy Minichello.

David Schuler assumes the executive director’s job with AASA during the final week of February, but he had a chance to give the association’s membership a good sense of his thinking at the 3rd General Session of the 2023 AASA National Conference on Education.

A full text of his address, provided in advance, appears below.

“I want to begin by thanking the amazing Dan Domenech for his incredible years of service to AASA.  He has been both a friend and colleague throughout the years, and I know that he is just one phone call away.

I also want to thank President Camhi and the Executive Committee for their continued support. 

I look forward to working with them and know that President-Elect Cruz has many great ideas and plans for next year.

I want you all to take a moment and think back to what it was like for you to be an elementary, middle, or high school student.

If you are like most people whowent into teaching, there was a specific teacher that served as an inspiration to you.

For me, growing up in Wisconsin, it was teacher Mrs. Rafeth in kindergarten and Mr. Cismoski and Mr. Bruggink in high school who had a tremendous impact on me.

Now think back to how your classroom was structured.

Did it look like this?

<Slide shown on screen>

Or did it look more like this?

<Slide shown on screen>

In the past 100 years, we have seen tremendous innovation in society.

From the automobile

The Television

The Computer

To the smartphone, where we can connect with literally anyone in the world and access information from the palm of our hand. 

But what has innovation looked like in our classrooms across this country?

We know that in 2020, our industry, like just about every other profession, was disrupted by COVID-19.

Each and every one of us had to abruptly shift from leadership… to day-to-day crisis management.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a public health degree and was not trained in pandemic response during graduate school.

And yet, we were forced to manage through a pandemic to ensure that our students could learn and our teachers could teach. And under our nation’s public school leaders, we did the absolute best that we could… you did phenomenal work during very trying times.

Classrooms and instruction went mobile.

And ushered in a new era of personalized learning and an opportunity to rethink instructional practices in our public schools.

But what about the next 100 years in education and societal innovation?

How are we preparing students for futures we can’t yet imagine?

Advancements in technology are only making things faster and more efficient.

We live in an age of rapid technological advancements, and it is exciting to think about what the future holds for us, our students, and societies across the globe.

Can we all agree that the technology we are using today will be the slowest it will ever be for the rest of our lives? It is time, my friends, that we turn the page and move away from managing our districts to leading future-driven instructional practices to transform our school communities and prepare our students for a world we cannot yet imagine. What a massive responsibility… But what an incredible opportunity for those in this room and our colleagues across the country…

With Artificial Intelligence we have already seen the power of AI in our everyday lives, and it will only become more advanced and integrated moving forward.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technologies will continue to evolve and become more immersive, allowing us to explore and interact with virtual worlds in new and exciting ways.

Quantum computing will revolutionize the way we process and store data, making it possible to solve problems that are currently… unsolvable. 

Robotics will continue to become more advanced and sophisticated, leading to new breakthroughs in manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, and other industries.

Biotechnology will continue to advance, leading to new treatments and therapies for a wide range of diseases and conditions. 

3D printing will continue to evolve, becoming more advanced and versatile.

Nanotechnology will continue to advance, leading to progress in fields such as medicine, materials science, and electronics.

Energy storage will become more advanced and efficient, leading to new opportunities in renewable energy.

Space exploration will continue to evolve, leading to new discoveries. Have you seen the pictures being sent back to earth from the Webb Telescope recently? It is completely recalibrating what astronomers thought they knew about space.

The Internet of Things will continue to expand and evolve, leading to new advancements in various fields.

So what are AASA members doing to not only prepare our students for the challenges and opportunities of today…but for them to become the technological creators and innovators… to harness the power that is within each and every one of them to create their own futures?

How are we as educational leaders in this room preparing ourselves, communities, and education systems for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the next 100 years?

AASA is committed to supporting you and our colleagues across North America in professional development, thought leadership, and advocacy on behalf of you and the 50 million public school students across this country.

Our colleagues are doing absolutely incredible work in their districts to prepare students for their future….

For example, to prepare students for our global society, the Minnetonka Public Schools in Minnesota, under Superintendent David Law, run the state’s largest Chinese and Spanish language immersion program, with over 3,000 students participating each year. 

Questar Board of Cooperative Educational Services Three in New York, under Superintendent Gladys Cruz, developed a simulated training curriculum using a virtual reality platform for mock interviews, and 72 percent of students in her cooperative reported that virtual reality benefited their education. 

Superintendent Heather Perry of the Gorham School District in Maine makes it a point to reinforce the importance of literacy, specifically reading, to Kindergarten students on a regular basis.  

When was the last time, as a district leader, you had the time and opportunity to read to students?

In California, under Superintendent Julie Vitale, the Oceanside Unified School District found innovative ways to adapt and evolve its traditional physical education classes and created Surf PE.

How cool is that? 

Or how about seeing your school district’s logo on cars throughout your community?  

In Pennsylvania, under Superintendent Lee Ann Wentzel, parents, and community members can support the Ridley School District Educational Foundation by purchasing a special license plate through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Special Organization Program.

While they raise money from the community, they also save money for their students by partnering with the Delaware County Community College to create dual credit opportunities in their Teacher Academy, Business Academy, pre-nursing, electro-mechanical program, residential electrical program, and carpentry program, shortening the time to post-secondary completion and helping their students discover their futures today. 

Or in Indiana, under Superintendent Scott Hanback, students in the Tippecanoe School Corporation can pursue a career in aviation at the Greater Lafayette Career Academy and enroll in the Flight and Aviation Management program.

Successful completion of the year-long course earns students dual credit and leads to private pilot ground school and drone pilot certifications.

In Montana, under Superintendent Tobin Novasio, the Lockwood School District has a Family Support Center available to support all families in the community.

Our colleagues across this country are really doing amazing work. 

And I look forward to working with each of you in this room to advance the cause of public education and reshape the national dialogue about our public schools.

On that note, AASA has a long history of leadership in the Learning First Alliance, a consortium of national education organizations that come together to advocate on behalf of the 50 million public education students and millions of public school staff across this country. 

The current Learning First campaign is… “here for the kids.”

This effort encourages families, educators, and community members to shine a positive light on local public schools and help tell the stories of the amazingly impactful moments happening in classrooms and school buildings nationwide.

I would encourage you to visit the Learning First Alliance website… and share your success stories using the “here for the kids” hashtag.

Colleagues, I want to thank you again for your leadership and membership in AASA, and I look forward to working with you for many years to come.

I’ll see you all in San Diego next year, if not before.

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