Open the Door to a Journey

Joanne QuinnThe dozens of educators convening in Newport Beach, Calif. for the 2016 Women in Leadership Forum were not disappointed following the meeting's first full day yesterday. The forum is being co-hosted by AASA, The School Superintendents Association, and the Association of California School Administrators.

“I wish you a great conference,” AASA President Alton Frailey told attendees at the outset of the day.

The forum comes shortly after AASA announced the expansion of its school leadership awards to recognize and support aspiring female leaders. A new category—the School Based Award—expands the depth of the AASA Women in School Leadership Awards program and provides a pathway for AASA to support more women educators in developing leadership skills and advancing their careers. 

Joanne Quinn, director of Whole System Change and Capacity Building at Michael Fullan Enterprises, served as the day’s first keynote speaker.

AltonFrailey.jpg“We are living in times of great complexity and massive change,” said Quinn. “Time for real leadership is more important than ever before.” 

During her discussion, themed “Leadership to Maximize Coherence,” Quinn shared a chart borrowed from her book, co-authored by Michael Fullan, The Right Drivers in Action for Schools, Districts and System. The chart, divided into quadrants, was labeled as follows:

  • Focusing Direction
  • Cultivating Collaborative Cultures
  • Deepening Learning
  • Securing Accountability

“Leadership is the ability to influence people in a positive direction,” she said. “We have to figure out how are we going to make people move from the impossible to possible.”

Quinn concluded her remarks saying, "I think we’re on the brink of transformation in learning.”

MaryAliceThe name of the day’s second keynote speaker should be familiar to AASA members who attended the 2011 National Conference on Education. Remarks were provided by Mary Alice Heuschel,  one of the four finalists for AASA National Superintendent of the Year that year. She was the superintendent of the Renton (Wash.) Public School District then and is currently the deputy director for U.S. programs with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“It was an incredible honor to be Superintendent of the Year from my state of Washington,” she said.

Part of Heuschel’s talk focused on “opening doors” in order to succeed. “When a (professional opportunity) door is opened, you have to consider walking through it with confidence, courage and a willingness to take risks,” adding, “don’t ever compromise your integrity.”

Heuschel joined the Gates Foundation in 2014. She previously served as chief of staff for Gov. Jay Inslee for the state of Washington when he was elected in January 2013. 

She also talked about failure. “Accept failure as part of life,” she advised. “Fail forward. Get up, dust yourself off and continue to move ahead. In failure, we discover how to improve. Every successful person has failed along the way.”

Heuschel concluded her remarks by providing some advice: “Speak kindly. Love generously. Care deeply. Tears happen. Cherish your health. Never stop learning. Surround yourself with what you love. Enjoy the journey!” 

Today marks the conclusion of the Women in School Leadership Forum. Join the conversation via Twitter by accessing #womenined.

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