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Seen & Heard Around the Conference

Short tidbits about distinctive activities spotted around the convention center in New Orleans during the AASA national conference.

Destined for a Best Seller?

The Laurel and Hardy tandem of social media-loving superintendents – that’s Nick Polyak and Mike Lubelfeld – are on the book promotion trail here at the AASA conference. Unfortunately, until late Thursday, they didn’t have their book yet in hand.

Twenty freshly inked copies of The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools  Today  finally arrived via UPS late in the day, allowing   the pair to give away a couple of promised copies to old friends and to let conference attendees gobble up the other copies for sale at the Social Media Lounge.

The publisher Rowman & Littlefield told the pair that’s all the printed copies they could spare for now. Lubelfeld, who runs the schools in Deerfield, Ill., said he wonders if that means hundreds of copies already have been sold and shipped.

The dynamic duo wasted no time in New Orleans before selling the first copy in their hotel lobby to Trey Holliday, a superintendent from Alabama.

Polyak, superintendent of Illinois’ Leyden High School District, offered this take on their eagerness to promote the book. “We want to sell as many copies as we can before anyone actually reads and reviews it.”

An Oscars Replay

It was time for AASA President Alton Frailey to unseal the envelope bearing the name of the 2017 National Superintendent of the Year. Standing at the center of the 1st General Session stage, Frailey widened his eyes and paused before reading what appeared in front of him.  “La La Land?” he asked incredulously.


Lost: A Full Wardrobe

Someone at the AASA conference deposited a full set of formal attire – sports coat, dress shirt, dress pants and sports shoes at the conference’s Information Kiosk Thursday, and by end of the afternoon had not come back to claim his clothes.

Kiosk manager Tammy Barbara advised told conference attendees throughout the day that the booth was not an ideal place to store their personal property.

Anyone own these fine duds?

Early on the Air

Dan Domenech’s official work day started earlier than normal Thursday even by AASA conference standards.

The CBS affiliate in New Orleans, WWL, asked AASA’s executive director to go on live at 6:40 a.m. on its morning news program. Domenech delivered his key points about the importance of this year’s event during a three-minute report.

At a time when he might otherwise be wrapping up his morning fitness routine, Domenech instead spent about a half-hour on the corner of Convention Center Boulevard and Julia Street outside the convention center in the mid-50s breeze helping the TV reporter to correctly pronounce his name.

“You got it right,” Domenech announced as the segment went live.

Getting Social

AASA President Alton Frailey dropped by the convention's social media lounge to see what was happening on Thursday. He ended up getting social.

Staff members created placards featuring the faces of Frailey, ASAA Executive Director Daniel Domenech, AASA President-Elect Gail Pletnick and others who were on hand. Frailey picked up his own face placard for a picture, making it a selfie within a selfie.

After the fun, Frailey got serious about the issue saying, “It's refreshing to have a safe place for superintendents to learn about the social media madness and how it can be a good madness or a bad madness, depending on how you use it.”

Frailey says he believes in the power of social media and is encouraged by the number of superintendents diving into the technology.

Dancing in the Aisles

A dozen members of the AASA Governing Board and AASA staff somehow found their way in a dancing formation behind a six-man brass band that kicked off the 1st General Session on Thursday.

While the Storyville Stompers paraded down the center aisle of the darkened hall performing “When the Saints Go Marching In,” the board members and staff made merry, joined by a couple dozen elementary school pupils, as they followed the musicians up the steps to the central stage area.

No Laughs This Time

At the start of his keynote address at the 1st General Session, Jamie Vollmer told the crowd this was the third  time he had addressed AASA since 1994. “I’ve always opened with a joke at Bruce Hunter’s expense,” he said. “But now he’s retired.”

Hunter oversaw AASA’s legislative advocacy department for about three decades before retiring three years ago.

Vollmer launched into his remarks without starting with a laughable moment.

(Compiled by Jay P. Goldman, editor of Conference Daily Online)

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