Conference Daily Online

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Seen & Heard Around the Conference

Prize-Winning Essayist
Todd Dugan is in his first year as superintendent of Bunker Hill Community School District 8 in Bunker Hill, Ill., and he’s also a first-rate essayist.

Dugan, 43, was named the winner of a $5,000 prize at the first-place finisher in AASA’s Leaders Matter essay contest. AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech announced Dugan’s literary triumph during the 1st General Session of the AASA conference Thursday afternoon.

The essay contest invited administrators and school staff to submit essays describing why “Leaders Matter” in their local schools.

“The stories we received were heart-warming and representative of the good work we know is happening on behalf of public education,” Domenech said. “From all the responses, our judging panel narrowed the field to seven finalists. The winner was selected by all of you through online voting.”

Dugan spent nine years as a social studies teacher before moving into administration.

Recollections of a Conference 40 Years Ago
Susie Miller Carello carries fond memories as a youngster of tagging along with her parents at AASA national conferences. Those memories have come to the fore this week as she and her sister, Rebecca Miller Shanahan, deal with the passing on Wednesday night of their father, Richard D. Miller, a former executive director of AASA.

Carello, in an interview Thursday, recalled being at an AASA conference in Anaheim, Calif., in 1979 during her father’s AASA presidency when she and high school classmates performed with the Elkhart Central High School swing choir at the start of a conference plenary session.

Carello carries with her another fond recollection of her dad’s impact while leading the association. While she conducted a school evaluation in Brooklyn a few years ago while working as executive director of the State University of New York’s Charter Schools Institute, she was in the middle of interviewing the school’s principal when she spotted a plaque on the wall. It carried the familiar AASA logo and the wording “Richard D. Miller Award.”

“It was the first I knew a scholarship was named after him,” she said. “It was compelling evidence of the legacy dad instilled to provide the best education possible to all students.”

Any Best Sellers in the Bunch?

Apparently, a lot of superintendents aspire to tell their tales in the form of books. A Thursday conference panel of four superintendents with recently published works attracted a full house, about 75 attendees.

At the how-to session, the panelists described what it takes to be successful as a book publisher, notably skills such as persistence and resilience (when the inevitable rejection notice shows up from a prospective publisher).

Their cautionary words about the challenges did not deter audience members. When one panelist asked during the Q&A how many aspired to pursue a published work, about a third of the hands went up.

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

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